What exactly is COVID-19, where did it come from, and how is it changing the world as we know it? And most importantly, how to fight back?
Origin of Coronavirus
Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 – is said to have emerged from Wuhan, China in December 2019. While the exact cause is still unknown, it was nowhere near unexpected. Over the past 15 years, there have been numerous studies and articles warning of an impending global pandemic involving a new strain of respiratory diseases. In fact, US President Donald Trump conducted a pandemic exercise in early 2019 called “Crimson Contagion”. Crimson Contagion imagined the implications of a flu-like pandemic which originated in China and spread around the world. However in spite of this, the USA has been caught completely off guard and is being deemed the next epicentre of Covid-19 with almost 123,781 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 2,229 fatalities and 3,238 recoveries across the country and the number is still rising.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is essentially an infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. It spreads through saliva and nasal discharge when an infected person sneezes. When it comes in contact with surfaces, scientists claim it can last for up to 72 hours. However, this varies depending upon the type of surface, the number of particles on it, temperature and so on. Additionally, the virus can survive in the air for even longer.
Researcher on Covid-19 has flatly negated conspiracy theories about the virus being a “laboratory-created”. It has been proven that Covid-19 plays a regulatory role in nature, and while it has caught almost every county on earth by surprise, at some point a similar pandemic was expected.
Dr. Lǐ Wénliàng a Chinese ophthalmologist, who worked as a physician at Wuhan Central Hospital warned his colleagues in Dec, 2019 about a possible outbreak of an illness that resembled (SARS) severe acute respiratory syndrome, later recognized as COVID-19 (Corona Virus). He became a whistle blower when his warnings were later shared publicly. Li made some statements about it on the internet as well for which police summoned him but later he returned to the work from where he contracted this virus from a patient and died on 7 February 2020, at age 33.
Manifestation of Covid-19 in the Human Body
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The main list of acute symptoms at this time is actually quite short and can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
According to infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
“Being able to identify those symptoms and act upon them when necessary is critical”. Schaffner
The average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), this temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Fever is when your temperature reaches at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) for both children and adults. Also the best time to check your fever is in the late afternoon and early evening.
Another key telltale sign of Covid-19 is Coughing, but not just any coughing. The Corona inflicted cough is dry which you feel within your chest. It doesn’t start with a tickling sensation in your throat. It’s not about clearing your throat of something.
The cough is coming from your breastbone or sternum and is a clear sign that of inflamed or irritated bronchial tubes.
The third big clue to Covid-19 manifestation is shortness of breath and it can occur on its own, without a cough. It usually starts with chest feeling tight or a feeling of not being able to breathe deeply enough to get a good breath, that’s a sign to take very seriously. If you feel any shortness of breath without doing any physical exertion you need to call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
In addition to this if you develop:
- bluish lips or face due to lack of oxygen
- Sudden mental confusion or lethargy and inability to rouse.
Get medical attention immediately!
Flu and cold symptoms
This symptom is also related to Covid-19 but not common in everyone like the previous three. Rare cases of Covid-19 display symptoms resembling flu, including headaches, indigestion (vomiting & diarrhea) severe body aches and fatigue. In some cases patients can even report symptoms resembling a cold or allergies, such as a runny nose, sore throat and sneezing.
According to experts, in most cases you may simply have a cold or the flu accompanied with however, you need to seek immediate medical attention and Covid-19 testing if your symptoms, especially shortness of breath, persists even after a week and is getting worsen.
Among other lesser known symptoms of Covid-19 are:
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery recently identified symptoms of anosmia, or lack of sense of smell, and dysgeusia, or lack of taste, as signs of possible Covid-19 infections. Latest reports from China and Italy show that 1% to 3% of people with Covid-19 also had conjunctivitis. So if you are experiencing what is normally called “Pink Eye” along with other known symptoms of Corona, you should call your doctor or seek medical help immediately.
The High Risk Group of Covid-19:
According to statistics from China, Italy and Spain, it seems like men are more vulnerable to Covid-19 than women. In the initial days of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, men seemed to dying at a higher rate than women. Similar pattern was seen in Italy and Spain. However, more research is needed to understand this prognosis.
Second, it is noted that people with underlying medical conditions, particularly those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease, and cancer are vulnerable to a more severe bout of Corona and their fatality rate due to it is much higher than their healthier counterparts.
Although it has been noted that kids or younger individuals show a much lower infection rate than older individuals, rate in this preliminary stage cannot be fully depended on
Here is a breakdown of the risk factor for each age group:
Toddlers and under 10 years old
- Spain: 34 out of the 129 children required hospitalization. 1 was sent to the ICU (0.8% rate); No fatalities in this age group.
- Italy, China and South Korea: No fatalities reported so far.
- In the United States, there have been no reports of people under the age of 20 being admitted to the ICU and only 1,6% had been hospitalized.
Although current data shows that kids are not uniquely at risk of Covid-19, which is a relief.
Teens (10 to 19 years old)
- Spain: out of 221 cases within this group, only 15 of them hospitalized, a 7 % rate; no ICU admittance with just 0.4 percent fatality rate.
- Italy, China and South Korea: no fatalities in this group; in China 0.2% in this age group died.
- US: no ICU admittances or death in this group as of late last week; only 1.6% of this group hospitalized.
So far it seems older kids and teenagers may be more resilient than their younger peers in some.
Young adults (20 to 29 years old)
- Spain: out of 1,285 cases from this group, 183 hospitalized, a 14% rate; eight ICU admittance, a 0.6 % rate, and four deaths, a 0.3 percent fatality rate.
- Italy, China and South Korea: no fatalities in this group; China reports 0.2% of death rate in this group.
There is a higher hospitalization rate among young adults as more of them wind up in the ICU. Fatality rates are low, but deaths do happen.
Adults (30 to 49 years old)
- Spain: out of 5,127 cases from this group, 1,028 hospitalized, a 20% rate; 55 ICU admittances, a 1.1 percent rate; and 12 died, a 0.2 percent fatality rate.
- Italy (0.3 % death rate), China (0.2 %), and South Korea (0.1 %) reported deaths in this group.
- USA: CDC reports 21.2 % hospitalized, 5.4% put in the ICU, and 0.5% died.
Jeffrey Ghazarian is a sad warning for this population. A 34-year-old resident of Los Angeles, died from Covid-19 after five days on a ventilator. A cancer survivor, and an easy target for infection. Since those with past health problems have a weaker immune system and are more at risk.
People age (50 to 69 years old)
- Spain, out of 6,045 cases, 2,166 hospitalized, a 36% rate; 221 ICU admittance, a 3.7% rate; and 83 died, a 1.4% fatality rate.
- Italy, China, and South Korea: fatality rates from 0.4% up to 3.6 % for people in this group.
People over 50, the risks is growing higher, both due to age and more likely due to preexisting medical condition.
Seniors (70 years old and older)
- Spain: out of 6,152 cases from this group, 3,388 hospitalized, a 55% rate; 199 ICU admittance, a 3.2% rate; and 705 died, an 11.4% fatality rate.
- Italy, China, and South Korea: reported fatality rates from 6.2% up to 20.2 % for this group.
The data bear that senior citizens are in the highest hit by Corona group so far.
Prevention against Coronavirus
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Your best defense against this disease is ‘Better safe than sorry’ mind-set. In order to steer clear of Covid-19, maintain at least 3 feet of distance from others, use a N95 or similar breathing mask, wear gloves, use a hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol and wash hands frequently. Sanitize surfaces throughout your house or surroundings, even currency. If you experience any of the above symptoms, isolate yourself from others immediately and call for medical assistance. If recommended, get tested following the above mentioned safety measures throughout.
With the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization, experts believe frequent hand washing, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene are the ONLY ways to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Use of hand sanitizers is also pressed upon to minimize the risk of self-infection. Due to this grocery stores and pharmacies have almost run out of CDC-recommended hand sanitizers. Here is how you can make your own at home:
Nonalcoholic hand sanitizers with ingredients like benzalkonium chloride and tea tree oil will not kill coronaviruses.
DIY Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizer:
Combine in a bowl,
Two thirds: rubbing alcohol (99.9% isopropyl alcohol)
One third: Aloe Vera gel
Fill up into a soap or pump bottle
Shake well before every use.
Now Aloe Vera works as a moisturizer to stop your skin from drying out. Active ingredient used is isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol). Commercial sanitizers contain isopropanol, n-propanol and ethanol. 60%-80% alcohol volume is needed to effectively kill germs, so the 66% alcohol concentration in this recipe is about right if pure rubbing alcohol (“surgical spirits”) is used.
Pure ethanol is very hard to get but if you happen to get some, use that instead of isopropanol
Another “hand sanitizer” gaining popularity is vodka. Your average vodka contains about 40% alcohol – which is enough for an effective hand sanitizer. However, if you can get your hands on Balkan 176, the strongest vodka available in the UK, comes in at a staggering 88% ethanol. There is nothing like it.
Humidifiers are on the list of necessities medical experts are recommending people buy for the Covid-19 quarantine:
- Acetaminophen, or Tylenol,
- Cough medicine
- Vicks Vaporub
This is because previous researches conducted on the nature of the Corona family of viruses shows that Humidity affects this virus in two ways:
When the environment is low on humidity, the virus multiplies. In winter when the air tends to be dry, and there isn’t much humidity in the air, mucus coats the inside of your nose and airways, making it easier for infection to flourish. Heating systems add to drying out the air even further. That is why people often use humidifiers during the winter. Winter related infections can be greatly minimized by maintaining the relative humidity (indoor) levels between 40% to 60%. The CDC recommends humidifiers to help fight symptoms like cough and sore throat for Covid-19 and other coronaviruses. Medical experts are even recommending running a hot shower to breathe in the steam in order to keep your nose and throat hydrated. There’s always the time-old method of boiling a pot of water and carefully breathing in that steam as well. However, it is important to remember that humidity too high can spur mold growth around your environment so keeping a balance is essential in this matter. Opt for an electric humidifier if you have to, like the experts recommend.
Bottom Line: Viruses are present all year, and just like cold and flu, Covid-19 too will see a decline as soon as a vaccine is developed. The best you can do in the meantime is practicing good hygiene, social distancing and staying indoors to limit the risk of exposure to yourself as well as others. Make a few essential lifestyle and dietary changes which can further strengthen your immunity against Covid-19 like regular exercise, increasing zinc and fiber intake, and quitting smoking.