With the marking of a new decade,2020 brought the world a lot of significant issues that would be remembered as history even few decades later. COVID-19, more commonly known as “Corona” is yet the biggest issue so far. COVID-19 has introduced some new terms to the world such as “Corona”,“Pandemic”, “Quarantine” which have not been familiar to one, unless they are related to the medical field. Having a proper idea such terms related to COVID-19, how to keep yourself from getting the disease and how to avoid spreading of the disease are very important at the moment.
The WHO has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Epidemic is rather a familiar term to the public compared to the term pandemic. In simple terms ,an epidemic is defined as “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population while the term pandemic relates to geographic spread and is used to describe a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world. Usually infectious diseases are the kind of diseases that would develop into a state of an epidemic or an pandemic. Most of the times, the causative agent of an infectious disease is a micro-organism. Even though COVID-19 is more commonly called as the Corona virus, Coronavirus is the family to which the causative virus of COVID-19 belongs to. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).The name coronavirus is derived from the Latin corona, meaning “crown” or “halo”, which refers to the characteristic appearance reminiscent of a crown or a solar corona around the virions (virus particles) when viewed under two-dimensional transmission electron microscopy, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes.
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a strain called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. This name was given because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. Corona viruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying chronic medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. Also, people who are smoking has high chance of getting the disease and developing severe symptoms than non smokers. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Reducing the chances of being infected and spreading COVID-19 are the best ways to stop or slowdown the outbreaks. First and foremost, avoiding crowded places is the best to avoid catch and spread of the disease. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands therefore regularly and thoroughly cleaning your hands with an
alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water is very important. But it is not always possible, hands touch many surfaces, thus can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make one sick so it should be practiced to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease. So maintaining at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing is advisable. Need of wearing a mask to avoid the disease has bevome a debatable issue. But according to the WHO, there is need to wear a mask only if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. . As there is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and mis-use of masks.Covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze proper disposal of the used tissues is another step that can be taken to avoid the spreading of the disease.
But are these things enough to stop the spreading is the bigger question out there. The virus is mainly spreading through person to person-to-person contact but with the increase of the number of patients it can go into a community spread. To avoid that, quarantine of the suspected patients and isolation of confirmed patients are necessary. Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease. Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease like COViD-19 from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of the disease. Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease. These processes are done in order to control the disease. Many countries are carrying out quarantine programs specially for passengers arriving from highly affected countries and people who have been in close contact with a confirmed patient. It is more of a moral responsibility to support such programs rather than to go against them. As the symptoms of COVID-19 can appear within 2-14 days of exposure, there is a chance of people who are carrying the virus to not to show symptoms or show only very mild symptoms, an infected person could be engaging in daily activities like usual, but while doing that he or she may be spreading the virus to others. If such a person would be present in a mass gathering, there is a huge risk of that person becoming a super spreader. A “super spreader” is someone who infects more people with a disease than the average person does. Patient 31 of South Korea is an example for such a super spreader who ignored her symptoms and went on with normal routine including participating in services at a church which gathers a large number of people.
Some countries might take actions to temporarily ban massive gatherings and even to lock down cities depending on the situation, but as responsible citizens,it is the responsibility of people to avoid all unnecessary outings. If one has to go out, washing or sanitizing the hands and avoid touching the eyes,nose and mouth are the bare minimum one can do to avoid getting sick. If one suspects to be having symptoms, the best thing is to seek medical advice in a proper manner. Most countries facing this epidemic has arranged government medical services specialized to handle COVID-19 patients so even if you have the slightest symptoms, going into self quarantine and seeking medical help from proper authorities is the wisest thing to do. Being vigilant is the next most important factor. Knowing the situation within the country,state,city or town which you know is a must. Be aware of the disease management protocol of your country and what to do if you are sick accordingly.
Some countries might have their own remedies for cold and flu like diseases. Also some food like garlic have become popular as a cure or prevention for COVID-19. Even though there is no enough scientific research done to prove any of them, there can or can not be such preventative actions in them but it is a fact that too much of anything is always adverse. So rather than abusing them, using them in adequate quantities would be effective. Prevention is always better than cure, but in this case, there is no cure. Scientific research is still going on and soon a cure will be developed but till then the only hope is prevention. It is an individual’s responsibility to protect themselves and others from communicable diseases like this. In situations like these, people tend to mentally distressed but it can take a toll on our immunity system where as it is the only thing that we can rely on to avoid the disease and also to cure it if one gets the disease. In such situations it is normal to seek help in religion but some times large no of people are gathered in the name of religion,specially in eastern countries, expecting to get rid of the disease but in turn such incidents contribute to unimaginable no of cases reported. In modern days, anything and everything is at our hands with smart phones and internet, so why not the religion. At the same time, the same technology can become the problem because a perfect 8 hours of sleep is necessary in maintaining the health of immunity system. Eating good food is also said to boost immunity. So literally, a lazy man’s time table is the best at the moment which always has been the dream of a working man. As the world has half way stopped functioning, most of us given paid leave, we should live our dream preferably a little cleaner than usual, in order to not put the ones who are living a nightmare having to work even now ,that too with disease carrying patients in danger.