Only a few months ago, no one had heard about it, but today it is the most discussed topic.
Let’s figure out what is known about COVID-19 today.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
In December 2019, the outbreak started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and later became a global pandemic.
Before this, the new coronavirus and the disease it caused was not known, despite other coronaviruses: some of them can cause small respiratory infections, like seasonal SARS, others lead to the development of more serious pathological conditions, such as Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) ) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The new coronavirus mainly spreads by airborne droplets: a person contracted the virus by inhaling small drops that are released after an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
You can get infected by people who do not have any symptoms of the disease. That is why it is recommended to maintain social distancing and wear masks.
Since virus drops can maintain on surrounding objects and surfaces, there is a chance of infection by touching these objects, as one can later touch his/her nose, mouth, or eyes. That is why it is recommended not to touch the face and wash the hands regularly.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Recently, however, symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, joint and muscle pain, diarrhea, rash, and skin discoloration on the toes and hands are being indicated as well.
According to WHO, in 80% of cases, patients recover without any need for hospitalization. However, in about 1 out of 5 cases, the COVID-19 condition is severe – patients develop pneumonia, respiratory failure, and other complications. The risk of complications is higher in the elderly and patients with chronic diseases such as heart and lung diseases, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or cancer.
However, as experts noted, everyone can contract COVID-19 and face complications – even a young and healthy person.
As noted above, everyone can contract the virus, however, the risk of complications is higher in older people and patients with concomitant chronic diseases. And it does not mean at all that everyone else will not encounter complications, therefore, it is recommended to observe safety measures without exception.
Children and adolescents, according to today’s data, are less at risk of developing complications than adults, but they also need to be careful, because children who become infected can contribute to the further spread of the infection and infect more vulnerable relatives.
Besides, there is evidence that some children develop symptoms that resemble Kawasaki disease due to the coronavirus infection. And this is another reason to protect children.
To protect oneself, we recommend strictly observing the rules of respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene. WHO experts recommend people to preserve social distancing, even if they are quite healthy, as patients with an asymptomatic COVID-19 are also contagious.
In public places, it is recommended to wear masks to prevent droplets containing the virus from getting into one’s nose or mouth. Do not touch the face if your hands have not been thoroughly disinfected. After touching any surface – especially outside – it is recommended to wash hands with soap or disinfect them with alcohol-containing solutions.
During coughing and sneezing, it is recommended to cover a mouth with an elbow or disposable handkerchief, and then immediately throw it away and wash the hands.
To diagnose the new coronavirus, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are used: these tests look for the presence of the virus in mucus samples taken from the throat. There are also rapid tests, but their results are considered less reliable.
An X-ray or CT scan is used to diagnose pneumonia caused by the COVID-19.
A lot of research is being done today to find drugs effective against COVID-19. However, there are no drugs with proven effectiveness so far. In hospitals, some drugs are used with potential, although not yet proven effectiveness.
There is also no vaccine against the new coronavirus, although some labs are working on its creation.