COVID-19 is a highly communicable respiratory pandemic that has already disrupted worldwide social and economic growth. There is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, but there are several things you can do to avoid exposure and stop the virus from being transmitted.
What Is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the name given to a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, first discovered in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China on December 2019. Similar to bird flu and malaria, COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, which means that the virus can be transmitted between animals and humans. It is not yet clear from which animal the virus originated, only that the spread of the virus can be traced back to a wet market in Wuhan.
Human-human transmission of the virus eventually led to a worldwide spread, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 2020. According to Worldometer, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has reached 2,084,022 with recorded deaths of 134,669 and recoveries of 515,090, as of April 16, 2020.
Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 is notorious for being asymptomatic. Frequently, COVID-19 symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. They start out as common signs of the flu, including fever, dry coughs and tiredness. Patients may also experience:
- nasal congestion
- runny nose
- sore throat
- body aches
If fever and coughs are accompanied by troubled breathing and bluish lips or skin (cyanosis), immediate medical attention is advised.
Complications of COVID-19
It has also been found that those diagnosed with COVID-19 are also at risk of contracting complications such as:
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia (NCIP) – As of writing, this type of pneumonia is the only health complication arising from COVID-19. It is characterized by fever, dry cough, troubled breathing and fatigue.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – ARDS is a fatal condition in which the air sacs in the lungs become filled with fluid, which restricts the amount of oxygen being delivered to the bloodstream and organs.
- Arrhythmia – A condition in which the heart beats irregularly, usually too fast (more than 100 beats per minute), too slow (less than 60 beats per minute).
- Myalgia – Muscle pains and cramps that range in severity, from dull to deep. Joint pains may also be present.
- Cardiovascular shock – A condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood that the body needs to function.
- Heart attack and failure – Both occur when the heart is unable to receive sufficient oxygen-rich blood.
What Is a Risk Group?
COVID-19 can affect anyone, but certain types of people are considered to be at a higher risk of being infected. These mostly include the elderly and those with specific existing health conditions. On the other hand, people afflicted with mild coronavirus but with a strong immune system can recover without the need for special treatments.
The group of people who are at a higher risk of COVID-19 are the following:
- Elderly – Those who are 60 years old and above have weaker immune systems and are more likely to have pre-existing conditions, making them more vulnerable to acquiring COVID-19.
- Pregnant women – Pregnancy can alter the immune system, which makes women vulnerable against infectious diseases.
People who have the following pre-existing health conditions are also at a higher risk of COVID-19:
- coronary heart disease
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- severe obesity
- chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- chronic kidney diseases such as hepatitis
- chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis
- neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy
- autoimmune diseases such as HIV and AIDS
How to Reduce Risk of COVID-19?
Being part of COVID-19’s high-risk group doesn’t automatically mean that a person will eventually contract the virus. There are several precautions that help reduce one’s risk of being exposed to the virus:
- Follow social distancing. This means avoiding crowds and staying home as much as possible. If it is necessary to go outside, make sure to maintain at least six feet away from another person.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based rubs may also be used.
- Observe cough etiquette. This means keeping a good distance away when coughing, covering your mouth, or coughing/sneezing into disposable tissue, and immediately washing hands after.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Use disinfectants when cleaning, particularly on things that are regularly touched or used such as doorknobs and phones.
- Boost your immunity by taking vitamins, eating healthy and keeping hydrated.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that is yet to see a cure or vaccine, but people should not panic. By keeping yourself informed about this disease and practicing precautionary measures to avoid exposure and transmission of the virus, you can be assured that you will be safe.