What is it?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) /Novel corona virus is a member of the corona virus family. The word “corona” means crown in Latin. The virus particles have typical crown like spikes on their surface, hence the name. The disease caused by this virus has been termed as COVID-19, which stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019. As this virus has not been identified in humans till the present episode, it is being referred to as the “novel” virus. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
How does it spread?
Human to human transmission is the mode of spread. When the affected people cough, sneeze or exhale, the virus in respiratory droplets gets transmitted to the people around. Asymptomatic people can also transmit infection. The incubation period of this virus ranges from 2-14 days.
What are the symptoms?
These viruses usually caused mild respiratory infection, but some forms are lethal like SARS and the present SARS-CoV-2. You might experience fever, sore throat, running nose, shortness of breath, muscle pain and tiredness. In lethal cases, it progresses to cause acute respiratory distress, severe pneumonia, sepsis and septic shock.
When and Where to get tested?
If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms or have travelled to Italy, Spain, Britain, South Korea, Germany, UAE or China recently or you have come in contact with an affected person, then you need to get yourself examined by your physician and get tested for COVID-19. Indian Council of Medical Research gives a list of Government approved labs for Covid19 testing at its website https://www.icmr.nic.in/
Who is at risk?
Like for any disease, the elderly and infants are the most vulnerable group. Also, people suffering from other co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, respiratory disease or cancer need to take extra care.
Is there any treatment?
Only supportive treatment exists for viral illnesses like these. Fluids to avoid dehydration, antipyretics to control fever and oxygen if respiratory distress occurs. No vaccine has been approved till date, as this virus was unknown before 2019.
Is prevention possible?The only way out is prevention. We need to revise the basic steps of social hygiene. Clean your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (This can be ensured by singing the Happy Birthday song twice or reciting the alphabets from A to Z). If coughing or sneezing, use your elbow or tissue to cover your mouth, and then discard the tissue in a closed dustbin. Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from people who seem to be ill, are sneezing or coughing.