COVID-19 or coronavirus disease is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). This disease has resulted in a global pandemic. The cases were first discovered in the city of Wuhan in early December 2019, which then spread globally and emerged as the cause of acute respiratory disease due to its highly transmissible and pathogenic nature. Coronavirus is more contagious (spreads more easily) and leads to a more serious illness than the flu. Coronaviruses belong to a large family of related RNA viruses. These are responsible for causing illnesses ranging from the common cold to severe diseases, such as MERS (middle east respiratory syndrome) and SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The cases of COVID-19 continue to rise with thousands of deaths being reported daily all over the world. Hence, it is important to take precautions, such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, regular hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, to reduce the risk of infection and getting the COVID-19 vaccine when and if possible.
Following close contact with a COVID-19 patient, the safest option is to stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 14 to 17 days. In certain situations, quarantine may end after 7 to 10 days with a negative COVID-19 test result. However, it is safer to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days irrespective of the result and quarantine cannot end before seven days for any reason.
If the COVID-19 test result is positive, it is important to seek medical care in the presence of symptoms and monitor oxygen levels, temperature and pulse rate. One may also seek a virtual video consultation with a doctor if the symptoms are mild.
The new COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough is the hope against the virus. Extensive trials have been conducted to test the efficacy of the vaccine. It is advised to get vaccinated because it is safe and effective in preventing the disease or serious complications of COVID-19. The vaccine is a major step toward things returning to normal. Ninety-four rich nations, including the United States, signed up for the global vaccine plan called COVAX and is being implemented nationwide. Several countries have started vaccinating their population, especially health care workers and the elderly. Multiple pharmaceutical/biotech companies are manufacturing the vaccine. The goal is to produce enough vaccines to vaccinate as many people as possible. One may contact their doctor to learn more about the vaccine and how and when they can receive it. All the vaccines are safe and effective and significantly reduce the risk of contracting a serious disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms can be mild, moderate or high depending on the extent of infection. The coronavirus is transmitted from an infected person to a healthy individual through close contact. The transmission happens through with the droplets from cough, sneeze or stool aerosols. It takes an average of 14 days for the symptoms to become visible, but it could also take longer depending on the body’s capacity to endure the virus. The human body recognizes the foreign pathogens that enter the body and begins to eliminate them by increasing the body temperature, producing factors that fight the virus. This is the infectious stage where a person starts to manifest symptoms, such as cough, fever ad severe throat pain. At this stage, the infection is highly contagious and can be actively transferred through droplets, aerosols and secretions. Common symptoms of COVID 19 includes
- Dry cough
- Fever (Temperature above 100 °F)
- Throat pain
- Back pain, joint pain, headache and muscle aches
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes)
- Memory problems
- Skin rash or discoloration of fingers or toes
- Loss of smell
- Loss of taste
- Not wanting to eat (anorexia)
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest pain or chest discomfort
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Lung failure
- Septic shock
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Cennimo DJ. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2500114-overview
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