Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
The COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was initially identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. It is closely related genetically to the SARS-CoV-1 virus. SARS started at the end of 2002 in China, and it caused more than 8,000 cases in 33 countries over a period of eight months. Around one in ten of the people who developed SARS died.
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2019.
Why should we be cautious?
It’s believed that animals are the original source, however, the COVID-19 spread is now human to human transmission. The virus can be passed on via sneezing(respiratory droplets), coughing, or even when people interact with each other for some time in close proximity. Droplets can also land on surfaces that others may come into contact with, who can then get infected when they touch their nose, mouth, or eyes.
There are currently no known cures against COVID-19. There are however drugs that are being tested against the coronavirus:
- Remdesivir – is an intravenous drug with a broad antiviral activity that inhibits viral replication.
- Antiviral EIDD-2801 – while Remdesivir stops the replication, EIDD-2801 introduces genetic mutations into the virus’s RNA, hence damaging mutations accumulate that the virus is no longer able to infect cells.
- Favipiravir or Avigan – has been used in Japan to treat influenza and it was approved as an experimental treatment for COVID-19 infections.
- Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine – are oral prescription drugs that have been used to treat malaria and other inflammatory conditions.
- Actemra or Tocilizumab – For some patients with COVID-19, the virus itself does not do the worst damage. In some people, their immune system goes into overdrive and launches an assault known as cytokine storm which can damage tissue and kill people. This drug is an immunosuppressant approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and prevents the cytokine storm.
According to the World Health Organization, globally about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have resulted in death as of March 3, 2020. The number of mortality continues to increase in countries such as the United States and parts of Europe. Elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are more susceptible to the virus than younger people.
Prevention is always better than cure
Most countries and major cities are imposing a quarantine of some sort to curb the rise of infection and death from COVID-19. Because the novel coronavirus is rampant, everyone is advised to stay at home and to avoid crowds or gatherings.
The chances of infecting someone is greater in crowded areas and can greatly multiply in numbers. It’s also prudent to isolate people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Countries such as South Korea were able to lower the number of infections and deaths because of strict quarantine implementation and mass testing that have been done to prevent further outbreak.
COVID-19 is airborne and can linger on surfaces for days. Even if you wear a mask to cover your mouth, and you touch a surface that has been exposed to the virus, once you touch your face with your hands, you can get easily infected or worse, pass the virus to someone else.
Washing hands often/regularly is important to prevent the virus from spreading or infecting one’s self. If someone has been in a public place, it’s imperative to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, using alcohol or hand sanitizer (that contains at least 60% alcohol) can reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection or spread.
A good practice is also to disinfect and clean frequently touched objects and surfaces. Maintaining good hygiene is the key to lowering the risk of getting infected. You should be vigilant in keeping your hands off your face when you have been outside and haven’t washed hands.
What to do if your child is suspected to have COVID-19
According to recent reports and research, children are less susceptible to COVID-19 compared to adults who have underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or suppressed immune system.
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Most people who have mild illness are advised to stay home. You must only seek medical attention if you have done self-check(difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, fever, and coughing).
Protect your family by washing hands and teaching kids to cough or sneeze into a tissue. Clean and disinfect your home.
If you suspect your child is showing symptoms, do your best to stay calm. You may contact your child’s pediatrician or talk to a health care provider if the following persists:
- Fever – if your child is between 3 months and 3 years old and has a fever of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher.
- Cough – if recurrent or displays difficulty in breathing
- Sore throat – blisters and sores in the mouth. For a baby; rash of red bumps on the child’s hands, feet, mouth or buttocks.
- Fast breathing – for a baby, this can be observed visually by the movement of the chest or wheezing sound from breathing hard
- Signs of dehydration – no tears when the child is crying or not peeing for 8 to 12 hours
We must all do our part to stay at home and maintain cleanliness during this pandemic. The only way to lower the infected and death curve is through prevention. The simplest way of washing hands and avoiding going to public and mass gatherings is a big step towards combating the COVID-19.
Do not panic and observe proper hygiene. Eat fruits, vegetables, and drink lots of water to maintain a good immune system. It’s also important to get enough sleep and exercise.
It’s also important to talk to children about COVID-19. A simple reassurance, to remind them that doctors are learning as much as they can, as fast as they can, about the virus, and are taking measures to keep everyone safe.
COVID-19 does not discriminate and neither should we.
We have to stay informed and up to date about the situation as we learn to prevent the virus from spreading in homes and other communities.