Unless you are living under a rock, You must have heard about the Corona Virus or COVID-19. As of writing this article, it has killed almost 3100 people, affected more than 80000 people across 65 nations.
Some are thinking this is similar to Spanish flu( which killed 25-39 million people worldwide) or Black Death (which killed 75-200 million people). Some are genuinely worried that this might be the end of humanity.
The constant bombardment of new deaths and new infections on the Internet and Social media did not help in preventing misinformation and sometimes blatant lies about this virus.
So, in this article, we will see what exactly is this new virus and should you be worried?
What is it?
Contrary to popular belief, Coronavirus is not a single virus. It is actually a group of viruses that may cause illness in animals and humans. These viruses cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more dangerous SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome )or MERS(Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
The COVID-19 virus which we are currently hearing about is one such virus. But the problem with this virus is that it hasn’t been identified before. No one knew about this virus before its outbreak in Wuhan, China. As this virus is newly detected, there is no vaccine for it.
How does it spread?
COVID-19 spreads just like normal flu or the common cold. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, he releases small droplets containing the virus. These droplets can land on surfaces. When a healthy person touches these surfaces and touches their eyes, nose, or mouth, the COVID-19 virus enters the healthy person’s body and infects him.
People can also get infected if they breathe in droplets from an already infected person.
The common symptoms of this virus are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea. These are usually very mild and begin slowly.
Some infected people don’t even show any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. This makes the detection of infection very challenging.
The majority of infected people don’t need special treatment and recover from it very easily. Around 1 out of 6 people who get infected will require serious medical care and the disease becomes life-threatening. This virus is particularly dangerous for old people and people with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes.
According to a recent WHO briefing, the death rate of COVID-19 is 3.4%.
Should you be worried?
To answer this, we need to consider the following questions.
Did you come into contact with people who are infected?
Have you been to virus-infected countries or cities or localities in the past month?
Are there multiple COVID-19 cases emerging in your city or locality?
If the answer to anyone of the above questions is Yes, then you should take the risk of infection seriously.
What should You do?
The most effective but also most ignored advice is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This kills the virus if it was present on your hands.
Stay at least 1 meter away from people who are coughing or sneezing. This will prevent you from breathing in small droplets containing Coronavirus from an infected person.
Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth unnecessarily. This will prevent the virus from entering your body if it was present on your hands.
Make sure you and people around you use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing. By doing this we can avoid the spreading of droplets. This, in turn, helps in restricting the spread of the virus.
Stay updated on COVID-19 by visiting the official WHO (World Health Organisation) website.
If you feel unwell then contact your health care officials and follow their advice.
There is no vaccine for COVID-19 as of now. But Vietnam has successfully treated and discharged 16 coronavirus infected patients. They attribute this success for giving a healthy diet and proper medical care for the patients.
Scientists are racing against the clock to find a cure. Australian scientists successfully recreated the virus outside china. This will help us understand more about the virus.
The Virus seems to be fatal only for older people and people with existing medical conditions. For the rest, if infected, it feels like a normal seasonal cold with mild fever.
What not to do?
Don’t panic buy masks. Masks are only useful if you have to stay in close proximity to an infected person or if you are already infected. You buying masks will create a shortage for people who actually need them.
Drinking cow urine or syrup made by cow dung cannot cure COVID-19.
Drinking disinfectants won’t cure this disease.
Don’t blindly believe stuff that you receive online. Don’t fall prey to misinformation and rumors. Follow only the WHO webpage about the COVID-19.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to keep yourself informed about the virus. Follow preventive measures as suggested here or by your local government.
Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. So DO NOT PANIC .