The novel coronavirus responsible for a pneumonia-like illness has killed over 42,000 people and infected over eight lakh in worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). As the specific mode of transmission of the virus is yet not clear, the best way to prevent is to avoid being exposed to it.
Here’s all you need to know about the COVID-19:Origin
As a specific family of viruses, coronavirus or COVID-19, which is said to have first originated in China’s Wuhan, was declared a pandemic on March 11 by WHO. As per Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the infection may have started from an animal source but spreads through human to human contact.
Symptoms and how does it spread?
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, as per WHO.
Who is at risk?
As per WHO, older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.Are elderly, diabetics, people with other pre-existing ailments at higher risk?
A recent Lancet study concluded that older people and those with diabetes are more at risk of getting coronavirus. “Poorer outcomes in older people may be due, in part, to the age-related weakening of the immune system and increased inflammation that could promote viral replication and more prolonged responses to inflammation, causing lasting damage to the heart, brain, and other organs,” the study said.
What can be done for prevention?
WHO recommends to prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:
*Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
*Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
*Avoid touching your face.
*Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. However, WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks.
*Stay home if you feel unwell.
*Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
*Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
Many countries have put in lockdown measures and people have been asked to practice social distancing and self-quarantine to help break the transmission chain and slow the spread of the disease.
How different is it from the common flu?
According to WHO, COVID-19 and the flu are both contagious viruses that cause respiratory illness and lead to symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, chest congestion, rise in temperature and if it gets difficult to contain, lead to pneumonia. While symptoms can appear anywhere between three to four days for flu, it takes two to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear.
In hindsight, both may appear similar in the beginning. However, they belong to different virus families.
Is a vaccine available?
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. “However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.
Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus, states WHO.
Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health, it advises.