Here's what you need to know about COVID-19
What is Covid-19 ?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, Muscle pain, sputum production and sore throat are less common.
While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure. The infection is typically spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between 2-14 days, with an average of five days. The standard method of diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab. The infection can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia.
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), officially named as COVID-19 by the WHO, has spread to more than 150 countries including China prompting the WHO to declare the disease as a global pandemic. Confirmed novel coronavirus cases have crossed 220000, while more than 8,000 deaths have been reported across the world as Europe becomes the new epicentre of coronavirus. Approximately 60% of the global COVID-19 cases are currently outside China.
What are Covid-19 symptoms ?
Symptoms of COVID-19 are non-specific and those infected may either be asymptomatic or develop flu like symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, or muscle pain. The typical signs and symptoms and their prevalence, are shown in the corresponding explaintion.
Further development can lead to severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, septic shock and death. Some of those infected may be asymptomatic, returning test results that confirm infection but show no clinical symptoms, so researchers have issued advice that those with close contact to confirmed infected people should be closely monitored and examined to rule out infection
The usual incubation period (the time between infection and symptom onset) ranges from one to fourteen days; it is most commonly five days.In one rare case, it had an incubation period of 27 days.
Recommended measures to prevent infection include frequent hand washing, maintaining distance from others, and not touching one's face. The use of masks is recommended for those who suspect they have the virus and their caregivers, but not the general public. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 so far. Management involves treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Evidence of local transmission of the disease has been found in many countries across all six WHO regions.
1. Hand washing
Hand washing is recommended to prevent the spread of the disease. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the toilet or when hands are visibly dirty; before eating; and after blowing one's nose, coughing, or sneezing. It further recommended using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at
60% alcohol by volume when soap and water are not readily available. The WHO also advises people to avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
2. Respiratory hygiene
Health organizations recommended that people cover their mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing (the tissue should then be disposed of immediately).
The use of surgical masks by those who may be infected has been recommended, as they can limit the volume and travel distance of expiatory droplets dispersed when talking, sneezing and coughing. The WHO has issued instructions on when and how to use masks.
Surgical masks are the lowest grade of protection, and are designed mainly to protect others from the wearer. Masks designed to protect the wearer are technically "respirators", though calling them "masks" is common. Only China has specifically recommended the use of masks by healthy members of the public. Nevertheless, face masks have been widely used by healthy people in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
3. Avoiding crowds
Avoiding crowds and self-isolation at home has been recommended for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who suspect they have been infected. Additionally, individuals who have recently traveled to a country with widespread transmission or who have been in direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 have also been asked by some government health agencies to self-quarantine or practice social distancing for 14 days from the time of last possible exposure.
The National Health Service in the UK has recommended that those with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home for 14 days, taking precautions to avoid infecting others within the household. As long as symptoms don't significantly worsen health services should not be contacted.
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World Health Organization ( WHO ).
The Centers for Disease Control ( CDC ).
Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).