COVID-19 – Dealing with a Global Health Epidemic
The world is facing a deadly crisis in the form of COVID-19. The number of people infected with coronavirus on a global scale stands at 381, 529 (as of 24th March 2020) according to the Worldometer Statistics. Active cases worldwide add up to 262,546. The number of deaths reported numbers at 16,554 and continues to rise.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The symptoms of novel coronavirus may vary from person to person. While some patients are affected with mild symptoms, others get severely ill and some take a turn for the worse.
The Main symptoms of Novel Coronavirus include:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Body ache
It is necessary to understand that the COVID-19 virus is a respiratory illness and most of the infected patients may develop just mild or moderate symptoms and even recover without needing any special treatment. However, patients with underlying medical problems such as diabetes, a heart condition, asthma, or hypertension may exhibit severe symptoms that can even lead to death. Aged people over 65 years of age also need to be extra careful as their immune system may not be very strong.
Consult a Doctor
If you think you have all the symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact the nearest healthcare center for proper medical advice and guidance.
There are specific laboratory tests that can help to identify the COVID-19 virus from the respiratory specimens including a nasopharyngeal swab can be taken at State and local health centers. Testing can be defined as taking swab samples of the sputum or mucus from the nose and throat areas. In the special COVID-19 testing laboratory, technicians look for specific genetic sequences that relate to the virus and its genome of RNA. Some laboratories produce a result within three hours and some give results within 24 hours.
Who has to be Tested?
While isolation and social distancing are important ways to control the spread of the contagious disease, it is not necessary that every person has to be tested for novel coronavirus. Most people who have suspected symptoms should be able to recover fully at home. The testing is done on patients who have severe symptoms and have a travel history to places that have maximum COVID-19 cases such as China, Italy, Iran, etc.
Precautions to be taken to bring down the curve of the steadily climbing COVID-19 graph:
- Clean or wash your hands as often as possible with soap and water for a minimum 20 seconds duration
- Use a sanitizer containing 60 percent alcohol base
- Avoid the habit of touching your face (eyes, nose & mouth) with unclean and unwashed hands.
- Avoid close physical contact with sick people. Put a respectable distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 cases are prevalent in your community
- Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or tissue when you sneeze or cough and wash your hands immediately
- Wear a face mask if you are sick or as per the rules of your country
- Clean and regularly disinfect kitchen counters and other surfaces such as handles, desks, toilets, sinks. Clean dirty surfaces with detergent and disinfectants.
How Countries are Responding and Fighting to Control the Spread of the COVID-19 Virus
China successfully contained the spread of the novel coronavirus and the tactics used by them could be useful for all other countries who are presently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a senior official working with WHO had stated that China managed to nip the epidemic as it was gaining ground and stopped it from spreading all across China. Containment was the first major step that was taken in the epicenter Wuhan since its outbreak of COVID-19 in December.
Other measures such as sanitizing the houses, streets, and hospitals were also conducted. People were advised to clean their homes and surfaces with disinfectants. Frequent hand washing was also encouraged. Wuhan city was subjected to a complete lockdown and citizens were strictly prohibited from leaving their house except for essential needs. It was compulsory to wear masks and those who did not adhere to rules were questioned by the police. This lockdown gave China the much-needed buying time to break the virus chain and gain upper hand over the control of the COVID-19 cases. The containment was successful and allowed the other Chinese regions to stop the outbreak in a disciplined and controlled manner.
South Korea boasts of many modernized and effective protective measures that were adopted for COVID-19 testing. People were suggested to maintain social distancing and high standards of cleanliness. Hand-washing was encouraged. New testing involving a public 'phone-booth' system, was introduced in a Seoul hospital to offer speedy testing for people worried about their flu-like symptoms. The procedure involves a person entering one section of the glass-walled phone booth and connects to a medical worker who is standing on the other section of the glass. The worker takes the swab sample after quickly wearing rubber gloves before the booth is disinfected again.
Italy is now the present epicenter of the novel coronavirus epidemic with most infected cases and fatalities. At the start, Italy was slow to respond and in its efforts to curb the pandemic, which caused disastrous results. The first confirmed case in Italy happened on 20th February 2020. the first coronavirus patient was known to have contacted the virus from a European. Within three days, the country had more than 120 confirmed COVID-19 cases and many Italian towns were sealed off. The initial government response was said to be evasive. While health officials wanted the public to follow social distancing practice, people were seen going about with their daily activities outdoors. And the deadly disease spread all over Italy and the country was put on a lockdown finally on March 9th, 2020. However, sadly the fatalities continue to rise and the public has been ordered to stay at home.
With a vast population of 1.3 billion people, India has managed to keep its COVID-19 cases down as they have adopted stringent measures to fight against the spread of the killer virus. Although the number of cases in India is steadily rising, the government has taken numerous precautionary steps in a bid to contain the spread. On 22nd March 2020, India observed a total shutdown called 'Janta Curfew' requested by the Indian Prime Minister to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 cases in India. Almost 391 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and many fresh cases are being reported as we speak. Most Indian states have been put under an emergency lock down till the 31st March 2020.
Frequent hand washing with alcohol-based sanitizer or hand wash liquid for at least 20 seconds is the new cleanliness mantra followed by billions of people around the world. People should fully cooperate with their state health departments and local healthcare centers for testing and try to stay in self-quarantine till they receive the test results. You can contact the state provided addresses and phone numbers or talk to your medical provider for proper guidance.