|Dr Kavithadevi Mohanraj|
Dr. Kavithadevi Mohanraj is a pulmonology specialist with an MBBS and MD from Pondicherry University, India and a DNB from the National Board, India.
What is coronavirus and what are the preventive measures you should take?
The common cold is non-threatening, but it’s often the way most virus outbreaks begin. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility of a much larger outbreak globally.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, some more severe than others. They include the viruses that cause common cold as well as the ones that cause life-threatening diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
The coronavirus that began to take hold in China in December 2019 and is now spreading globally is called a ‘novel coronavirus’ because this specific type has never been encountered before.
What are the symptoms?
These are the common symptoms of the virus:
The stage where the virus gets worrying and possibly fatal is when the following complications occur:
How is coronavirus treated?
As of now, there is no specific antiviral treatment for the virus. Neither is there any vaccine to help prevent it. However, those infected can get support to help relieve the symptoms. In severe cases, the treatment includes support to vital organs to prevent organ failure.
According to the WHO, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition.
How to prevent encountering the virus?
While there is no need to panic, there is a definite need to be aware and do everything in your power to protect yourself and your loved ones. You can undertake the following precautionary steps to reduce the risk of encountering the virus:
Wash your hands frequently:
While this may seem very basic, it’s a critical preventive step. Wash your hands with soap or alcohol-based hand wash and water. Even if your hands don’t seem dirty, it’s important to wash them frequently, especially in the following scenarios.
Wash your hands before:
Wash your hands after:
Be careful when coughing or sneezing:
Cough, runny nose and fever are the most common symptoms of coronavirus. While it could be a common cold, it’s better not to take any risks. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Be mindful with food:
This novel coronavirus, as with most other coronaviruses such as Ebola and the flu virus, is transferred by animals. Being a zoonotic virus, it spreads from animals to humans and from humans to humans. Hence, it is essential to practise food safety in the following ways:
Take better care of the weak:
While anyone who comes in contact with those infected is at risk, people with low immunity or poor health are more susceptible. Many of those who have died were already suffering from some pre-existing illness.
It is therefore, important to pay attention to older adults, children, and those already afflicted with other diseases. The severity and the recovery of the virus are thought to depend on an individual’s existing health, and complications could increase in such cases.
Watch out when travelling:
If it’s not absolutely essential, cancel travel plans. In case travel is unavoidable or if you’re already travelling, take the following precautions:
If you take these precautionary measures, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Make sure you create awareness among your friends and family without creating panic and watch out for further updates from the WHO.
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