Published on Mar 26, 2020 and last reviewed on Mar 27, 2020 - 6 min read
In these times when coronavirus is raging through the world, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and, at the other end we have thousands of online forwards and memes tickling our collar bone. It is wise if we can take a moment, sit back, read and understand what exactly is happening around us, because this is not a joke.
Many of us are extremely vulnerable to this disease, and all of us should take the utmost care to keep ourselves uninfected. We must stay positive and prevent ourselves and our loved ones from getting infected with this disease or affected by the developments.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses causing illnesses like the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
COVID-19 is a novel strain of the virus, which was discovered in 2019 in China. The viruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. The earlier outbreaks of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been traced to animals.
In more severe cases, COVID-19 infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and sometimes even death.
The disease is highly contagious and spreads through fomites very easily. The droplets that get released when someone coughs, sneezes or blows one’s nose harbour the virus, and when these get passed on to another person, he will acquire the disease. Since it spreads so quickly in the community, it causes tremendous health problems and suffering to the community in general.
Absence from work of large numbers of people will affect the economy and growth of the country. A small percentage of people died due to disease-related complications. But even though this percent is very less, since the total number of people infected are so high, the number of deaths becomes quite worrisome. Most complications are respiratory system related. Many patients require ventilatory support, which is available only in ICUs in an equipped hospital. Not all hospitals are well equipped to handle such emergencies. While most recover, a few succumb to the disease.
While the internet is flooded with what precautions to be taken, I would like to just stress to my readers that please read and understand from an authentic website. Only then can we say for sure that the info given is verified and authentic. Do not follow all the messages and forwards blindly. Everyone must now be aghast with info regarding the deaths and number of infected people. What we should do at the moment is to keep calm and follow all the instructions given by our local and national government authorities. I have collected some authentic information for you to simplify some common doubts regarding the disease.
Quarantine is used to separate and/or restrict the movement of seemingly normal people who could have been exposed to a communicable disease (COVID-19, in our case) to see if they become ill. They may have been exposed but do not know it, or they may not show symptoms. It helps to limit the spread. Quarantine can be done at one’s own home.
Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a disease from those who do not. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases. Hospitals have isolation wards for communicable diseases.
Quarantine is required when you may have the disease and may have got exposed to someone who has the disease before you are tested for the disease. Once you are tested positive, you are put in an isolation facility.
Keeping social contact to a bare minimum to pre-emptively reduce the spread of the disease is known as social distancing. This includes acts like staying home as much as possible, avoiding travel and transport, avoiding public places, functions, events, crowds, etc.
If the rate at which new cases are occurring is more than the number that the public health system will be able to handle, then we are looking at an impending health crisis of an enormous magnitude.
Isolation wards and ICUs will become full.
Doctors may have to choose between which patient to treat and save.
Hospitals may run out of basic supplies, beds, ventilators, gloves, masks, equipment, and so on.
If we prevent the number of daily cases from peaking over the numbers we can treat, then we will be able to minimize the burden on our health care delivery systems and medical professionals, thereby preventing casualties and morbidities. The main thing for this is SOCIAL DISTANCING.
When there is a spread of an infection within a community in such a way that we are not able to find out the source of infection, it is called community transmission. We are unable to identify the source from who the infection came in the first place. We may be able to isolate foreign travelers who test positive and those who came in contact with those travelers and came positive subsequently. But still, there may be new cases who have not traveled outside or who have not got exposed to any such traveler as well. This is stage 3 and that is when we know that community transmission has started. We should try as much as possible to make sure we do not reach this stage, as then the cases will increase exponentially, and our hands may get tied.
When an epidemic occurs in an enormous level spreading to multiple countries over various continents, affecting a large number of people, it is termed as a pandemic. An epidemic is a sudden spurt in the occurrence of a disease from the baseline level in a community.
Do not blindly forward messages without verifying.
Do not blatantly follow online messages.
Do not shake hands with friends and new people.
Do not share towels and handkerchiefs.
Do not consume alcohol or smoke.
Do not take a lot of outside foods.
Do not eat uncooked foods.
Do not be in groups and gatherings.
Avoid functions and large gatherings.
Avoid going to the doctor for mild and moderate issues and use iCliniq instead.
Do not go forward with elective surgeries.
While we all will follow the government regulations and directives, it is necessary that we see the merit in these actions as well. The curfew will definitely help retard the spread of the virus in the community. A country like India, where the healthcare infrastructure is in shambles, will not be able to handle the repercussions of letting the virus spread. We are not poised to handle the sort of health crisis that China had last month or Italy and Spain are going through now. Half of our population cannot afford private healthcare and the government hospitals cannot cater to them fully as well.
Responsibilities as a Patient or Sufferer of COVID-19:
Do’s and Don'ts for the General Public:
Use hand sanitizers and masks.
Dispose of used masks properly.
Eat and drink healthy.
Exercise normally but indoors.
Seek medical attention early.
Forward unverified messages over social media.
Gather with friends.
What Can You Do to Get Health Related Advice or Treatment When You Cannot Go to the Hospital at Times Like This?
For any doubts or queries about coronavirus, you can use the iCliniq app to get in touch with an infectious disease specialist. Doctors here can help you get the right advice and suggestions regarding what has to be done. They will guide you through the right steps and help you get back in shape. You will be able to avoid the dreaded visit to the hospital or a clinic. It becomes your responsibility as well to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital unless it’s a genuine unavoidable emergency.
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