Coronavirus originated in China and has spread rapidly across the world (File)
As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the world, medical experts are spreading awareness on how to tackle the deadly disease that has claimed over 3,100 lives globally. The virus has infected nearly 90,000 people in more than 60 countries. The pathogen is believed to have originated in a market that sold wild animals in Hubei's capital Wuhan. US, Italy and Iran have been the most affected apart from China. Three cases have been reported from India which includes an Italian tourist. Three others who contracted the virus earlier in India have been cured, doctors said. China reported 42 more deaths on Monday — all in central Hubei province, bringing the death count to 2,912. Italy, Europe's worst-affected country with around 1,700 infections, said Monday its deaths from the virus had jumped 18 to 52. Governments across the world have ramped up precautions against the disease and have issued travel bans and advisories.
What is the novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The novel coronavirus is a new strain earlier not recognised in humans. The virus can be transmitted between humans and animals.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How does coronavirus spread?
The infection can be spread from people who have the virus. The disease can spread from droplets of the nose or mouth and are spread when an infected person coughs or exhales. When the droplets come in contact with others and they touch their mouth or eyes or nose, the infection spreads. People can also catch the virus if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs or exhales droplets. World Health Organisation says studies suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.
What are the common misconceptions about coronavirus? Let's debunk
Misconception: It spreads through air
Truth: One of the common misconceptions of coronavirus infection is that it can spread through the air. However, it is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets.
Misconception: It spreads through faeces
Truth: The risk of catching COVID-19 from the faeces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak.
Misconception: It spreads through an animal source
Truth: Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed. However, for protection, while visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.
Misconception: It spreads through pets
Truth: There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
Misconception: Antibiotics can prevent or treat coronavirus
Truth: No, antibiotics do not work against viruses and only work on bacterial infections
What to do to prevent getting infected?
- Regularly wash hands thoroughly with alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap and water. Wash hands before and after meals and at regular intervals to get rid of viruses.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing to avoid contracting droplets from anyone infected.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth without washing.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If you used a tissue, dispose of tissue immediately.
- People with no respiratory symptoms, such as cough, do not need to wear a medical mask. People with symptoms should wear a mask as a preventive measure. Not all masks help in prevention of the spread of virus. There are some masks that would work which also need proper training to put on. Ensure the mask is clean, unused, has no holes and clean your hands before putting it on. Discard the mask after use and wash hands again.
How can you detect coronavirus?
The incubation period ranges from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. After early symptoms appear, there are three rounds of tests that need to be done to confirm if someone is infected. They are then kept in isolation.
What is the cure for coronavirus?
There are no vaccines and no specific medicines to prevent or treat coronavirus. However, hospitalisation and care is very important for recovery. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.
All countries are taking preventive measures to control the disease and working closely with health experts to contain it. As research continues on the disease, its advisable to not panic and not pay heed to rumours about the virus.