What is Coronavirus Disease 2019?

Coronavirus disease is also known as COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China last year. This disease has since caused a large scale of epidemic and has spread to more than 181 countries globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared COVID-19 a pandemic with a death toll of more than 21,000 to date.

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses make up a large family of viruses that can infect birds and mammals including humans. These viruses have been responsible for several outbreaks around the world including the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in South Korea in 2015 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003.

Most recently, SARS-CoV2, a newly discovered strain from the coronaviruses family that spreads through inhalation or ingestions of viral droplets triggered an outbreak with sparkling international concern. This virus is not similar to other coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans. Patients with this infection will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

Why is it called Coronavirus Disease?

The World Health Organization officially named the disease responsible for the recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses as COVID-19. It was previously known as the 2019 Novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. SARS-CoV2 is the name of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic vaccines, tests, and medicines. The disease is named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, treatment, and severity. The coronavirus is named for its appearance. Under the microscope, the virus looks like they are covered with a pointed structure that surrounds them like corona or crown.

How it is spread?

COVID-19 can be passed from person to person through inhalation or ingestions of viral droplets from an infected individual. It is considered a pandemic as it has been detected in people all over the world. The virus can be spread between two people who are in close contact with one another. It may also be through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.

Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed any symptoms. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease.

For COVID-19, the incubation period is somewhere between 2 to 14 days after exposure. It is because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronavirus. The quarantine period lasts for 14 days. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.

How to protect yourself and others?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • Wash your hands often with water and soap for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Do not touch your mouth, eyes and nose without washing your hands.
  • Practice social distancing and stay away from people who are sick.
  • To prevent the virus from spreading in your community, practice social distancing.
  • Stay at home if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough or you may use your elbow. Throw the used tissue right away in a closed bin.
  • Wear a face mask if you are sick or you are around other people. If you are not able to wear a face mask, then you should cover when you sneeze or cough.
  • If you are not sick, there is no need to wear a mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick.
  • Clean and disinfect often especially touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, or toilets.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them soap or detergent and water before disinfection.

How to protect your family?

You may implement steps to prevent illness such as staying at home, proper hand washing, and respiratory etiquette. You may as well create a household plan of action in case of the disease in the household.

  • Consider the 2-week supply of medications, food, and other essentials. Know how to get food delivered if possible.
  • Establish ways to communicate with others.
  • Establish plans on what to do about the needs of children and how to adapt to the cancellation of events.
  • Always stay informed about emergency plans.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of the disease may be very mild or more serious such as:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

After exposure to the virus, the appearance of the symptoms may take up to 14 days. Some other symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Headache

Get medical attention right away if you develop emergency warning signs such as:

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Trouble breathing
  • Inability to stand
  • Bluish lips or face

The spectrum of symptomatic patients ranges from mild to critical but most cases are not severe. The overall case fatality is 2.3% while the reported critical conditions are 5%.

What to do if you are sick or caring for someone?

If you are sick with COVID-19, do the following:

  • Stay at home
  • Stay in touch with your doctor for medical care
  • Avoid public transportation
  • Separate yourself from others especially in your home
  • Limit contact with animals and pets
  • Wear facemask
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • You should not share any personal household items

Prevent the spread of germ when caring for someone who is sick.

  • Have the person stay in one room
  • Have them use a separate bathroom
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Wear a face mask when they are around people
  • If the sick person can’t wear facemask, you should wear one while in the same room
  • Make sure the sick person drinks a lot of fluids to stay hydrated and rest at home

What to do if you have close contact with someone with COVID-19?

You should monitor your health for symptoms during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person. You should not go to work or school and avoid public places for 14 days. If you get sick, you should isolate yourself at home and away from other people. If you don’t have a high-risk condition but want medical help, tell them you were exposed to someone who is with COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency services arrive or right away after they arrive.

How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19?

Poor information could help the disease spread but good information could help halt it. Here are some DO’S and DONT’S you may follow:

Stick to the facts

  • Do speak accurately about the risk from COBID-19 based on scientific data and latest official health advice
  • Don’t share unconfirmed rumors and avoid using hyperbolic languages intended to generate fear
  • Be positive
  • Do talk positively and emphasize the effectiveness of prevention and treatment. For some people, this is a disease they can overcome.
  • Emphasize the effectiveness of adopting protective measures to prevent acquiring the new coronavirus.
  • Don’t emphasize or dwell on the negative or message of threat.

Coronavirus Disease Diagnostic and Treatments

Doctors can test for coronavirus infections using a CDC kit or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel. This kit is intended for use with upper and lower respiratory specimens collected from an infected person who meets the criteria for COVID-19 testing and by laboratories designated by CDC as qualified.

There is no specific treatment yet for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms being manifested can be treated, therefore treatment is based on the patient’s clinical conditions. Recently, hydroxychloroquine has been administered to hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the US and around the world and hopefully, this drug would be one of the biggest game-changer in the history of medicine.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

Community living in warmer places appear to have a comparative advantage to the slow transmission of the infection. Whenever the temperature is colder, the number of cases starts to increase quickly. Warmer temperatures might make it harder for the coronavirus to survive in the air or on surfaces for long periods but it is still contagious for hours. The fact that local transmission is happening across the global signals that this virus may be more resilient to warmer temperatures. At this time, it is not yet clear if COVID-19 stops on warm weather.

Who are at higher risk of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease and based on available information to date, older adults and people with underlying conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from the coronavirus disease. Those at high risk of the infection include:

  • People aged 65 years of age and older
  • People with chronic lung disease
  • People with moderate to severe asthma
  • People who are in a long-term care facility or in a nursing home
  • People with a serious heart condition, and those undergoing cancer therapy
  • Patients who are immuno-compromised. Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, bone marrow, immune deficiencies, and prolonged use of corticosteroids.
  • People with severe obesity
  • People with underlying conditions such as those with diabetes, liver disease or renal failure.
  • Pregnant women

COVID-19 and Pregnant Women

The immune system of pregnant women is less quick to response to illnesses so they are more likely to become sick. Pregnant women should do the same thing as others. Things to do:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Take care of yourself. Reduce anxiety about this pandemic by taking a break from watching or listening to new stories about the pandemic.
  • Keep in touch with people who care about you or who you care about.

COVID-19 and Children

Children do not appear to be at higher risk of having this disease. You can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing respiratory hygiene. You may as well;

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household areas
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate by the instruction of the manufacturer. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry them, completely.

If your child is healthy there is no need to use a facemask. Only people who have symptoms and are providing care for those who are ill.

COVID-19 and Animals/Pets

Pets have other types of coronavirus that can make them sick. The other coronavirus can’t infect people and is not related to the current COVID-19.  Since animals can spread other diseases to people, it is always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals. At this time, there is no evidence that the virus causes COVID-19 can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets. You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick. It is also recommended that people sick with COVID-19 must limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new disease.