What is a coronavirus?
Coronavirus is the family of viruses that are commonly the cause of cold and other respiratory infections and illnesses1. They are viruses that are usually found in animals, but a few like the SARS virus are known to affect humans as well. But, this particular virus, now named SARS-CoV-2, was found in China in December 2019 is a new one that has not been seen in humans2. COVID-19 is the name of the (respiratory) disease caused by this new virus.
What are it’s symptoms?
The onset of symptoms may vary from person to person. In some cases, it may be as early as 2 days or as long as 14 days after coming in contact with the virus3. The most common symptoms4 are;
- Shortness of breath.
Other less common symptoms include;
- Sore throat
- Body aches
Here is a day-by-day breakup of symptoms that might help you identify COVID-195,6.
Day 1: The onset of fever and dry cough. There have been complaints of fatigue and body aches too.
Day 5-7: Shortness of breath leading to breathing difficulty.
The worse the situation becomes, the more organs get affected. Most common of them being the lungs, kidney, and heart. Also, as COVID-19 infection becomes more severe, the person becomes more prone to other infections and sepsis as well. On average, it is found that the people who recover from COVID-19 stay in the hospital for 10 days after admission. The person is usually cleared on Day 20-22 from the day the fever and cough had started.
What can you do?
The only thing that can be done so that COVID-19 doesn’t affect you is by taking preventive action. Here are a few things that you can do to keep yourself safe7.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face, mouth or nose, especially with unwashed hands.
- In case you don’t have access to water, use an alcohol-based sanitizer (with minimum 60% alcohol content).
- Make sure to avoid or minimize interaction with the infected. Maintain a distance of at least 3-6 feet from people who are sick.
- Social distancing is the key!
If you are ill, make sure that you;
- Follow coughing manners, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Or sneeze into your elbow.
- Practice self-isolation and self-quarantine.
- If you have any of the symptoms along with travel history out of India or exposure to an infected individual call the helpline number for further assistance.
As a caregiver8, make sure to carefully monitor for emergencies, practice hygiene and prevent the spread of germs, follow the prescribed treatment process and consider when to end the treatment and/ or home isolation.
- If possible, make sure that a separate bathroom is used
- Don’t share utensils or food
- Wear a facemask when you care for the ill person.
- Clean the surfaces that are touched frequently.
If you believe that you might have been exposed to COVID-19 and the listed symptoms are observed, call your doctor9. Please call your doctor before you visit him or her so that they can be prepared and guide you as required.
Helplines for you!
Also, you can call the helplines set up by the government: +91-11-23978046. You can also access the Whatsapp chatbot launched by the Government of India by texting to +91 9013151515. The Government of India and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also set up a mail for this purpose. The Helpline Email ID for COVID-19: ncov2019[at]gmail[dot]com
- Publishing HH. Coronavirus Resource Center [Internet]. Harvard Health. [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center#COVID
- Infographic: COVID-19 [Internet]. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/infographic-covid-19
- Lauer SA, Grantz KH, Bi Q, Jones FK, Zheng Q, Meredith HR, et al. The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application. Annals of Internal Medicine [Internet]. 2020 Mar 10 [cited 2020 Mar 21]; Available from: https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2762808/incubation-period-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-from-publicly-reported
- Wang D, Hu B, Hu C, Zhu F, Liu X, Zhang J, et al. Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China. JAMA [Internet]. 2020 Feb 7 [cited 2020 Feb 11]; Available from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2761044
- Zhou F, Yu T, Du R, Fan G, Liu Y, Liu Z, et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet [Internet]. 2020 Mar [cited 2020 Mar 16]; Available from: https://www.thelancet.com/pb-assets/Lancet/pdfs/S014067362305663.pdf
- The Lancet: COVID-19 infographics [Internet]. www.thelancet.com. [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.thelancet.com/infographics/coronavirus
- World Health Organization: WHO. Coronavirus [Internet]. who.int. World Health Organization: WHO; 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
- CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 22]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html
- CDC, CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Symptoms [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2020 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html