The recent outbreak of coronavirus is a cause of global concern. It is very similar to the dangerous SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in China and worldwide back in 2002-2003. The coronavirus death toll in China (the epicentre of the disease) has already reached 80.
Should you be worried even if you don’t live in China or are not even travelling to that country? Yes, you still have reasons to worry! Because people who are coming into India from China – such as travellers and tourists may carry the virus.
Here are a few things you should know about coronavirus.
What is coronavirus?
This virus looks like a crown and it affects humans, animals and birds alike. It spreads just like common cough and cold-
- When an infected person coughs or sneezes
- When you touch the infected person’s face or hands
- Touching anything that a person with coronavirus has touched, such as a doorknob, bus handrail, etc.
What are the signs?
Did you know that it is difficult to tell if a person has contracted coronavirus? This is because when you get coronavirus, the symptoms are similar to that of the flu and the common cold.
The signs of coronavirus are –
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body ache and muscle cramps
- Shortness of breath
Moreover, just like most cases of the flu or common cold, the symptoms disappear within a few days.
However, in some cases, the virus spreads to the lower respiratory system, which is when the infection becomes dangerous. It can trigger pneumonia.
Are certain groups of people at a higher risk?
Yes, there are certain risk factors that make some people more vulnerable than others. People whose immunity is weak or those with heart problems as well as the elderly are more likely to contract pneumonia from coronavirus.
How can doctors tell if it is coronavirus?
Now that WHO has sounded the alert for coronavirus, when you go to your doctor with the symptoms discussed earlier, your doctor will prescribe a blood test or nose and throat swab test to determine the presence of coronavirus.
Is coronavirus treatable?
There is no vaccine for coronavirus. This illness is treated with antiviral medicines that inhibit the spread of the coronavirus. If the disease progresses to pneumonia, doctors will treat it with regular pneumonia medication like Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, aspirin and fluids.
Prevention is better than cure
What can you do to minimize your risk of contracting coronavirus? Here are a few pointers-
- Wash your hands and face frequently especially after touching something that everyone else touches like a washroom doorknob or after using public transport.
- Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Do not touch your mouth, eyes or nose with your unwashed hands.
- Face masks can help protect against many respiratory infections that are spread, even coronavirus. If you wear a face mask, you can prevent the infection by stopping the virus from entering your body.
Coronavirus is a growing menace and we should beware and stay cautious to defeat this illness. So stay alert and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from this disease.