CORONA VIRUS DISEASE 2019 WILL BE DEFEATED.
History is full of sad and unfortunate events that shook the world. The Black Death pestilence of 1348, caused by Genoese trading ships sailing from the Black sea, annihilated an estimated 25-75 million people. Bubonic plague, caused by fleas on rodents brought the world to its knees, and its brunt crippling dear Europe to almost extinction. Pandemics, are our greatest undoing as humans, because they threaten the very life and existence that we so much pride on. Much later on August 6 1945, Little Boy hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki so hard, that life has never been the same to date. In the midst of all this turmoil, the world has risen above to subjugate these threats, either by aggressive human effort or by the healing nature of mother Earth.
IMPACTS OF THE CORONA VIRUS
Today, our existence as the most intelligent species has again been faced by another even greater adversary, the Corona Virus Disease. COVID-19, as it is codenamed, is an infection so contagious that all the corners of the world are shutting down, enveloping us inside an artificial and ephemeral vacuum in concerted efforts to win over its brutal spread. Once bitten, we are aware that such global pandemics, when they slip in between our fingers, cognitive ability to control them, often deride us so painfully that loss of life becomes innumerable. Just like Yesinia pestis, the bacterium that was believed to cause Bubonic plague, entered Europe through Italy from Central Asia by Mongul warriors, so does COVID-19’s pattern of transmission bemuse us. Originating from an epicenter, a threat should be thwarted as soon and contained within the contaminated area, before it is imminently dispersed to other larger swathes, where its control would be overwhelming.
CAUSES OF CORONA VIRUS
Corona Virus Disease, is caused by a recently, discovered, 2019, strain of Corona Virus, a pathogen identified as SARS COV-2. Coronaviruses are a group of related viral pathogens that cause diseases in birds and mammals. In humans, they leverage on the respiratory tract, usually causing infections that range from mild such as the common cold, to lethal infections such as the ones caused by SARS, MERS and now COVID-19. The primary hosts of coronaviruses are usually animals, but they are transmitted to persons who come into contact with these animals, either by interaction or by consuming them as food. A zoonotic disease, when it crosses to humans, has adverse effects on humans, especially those whose immunity is not robust enough to ward or fight off the pathogen.
WHO CAN GET CORONA VIRUS
As we already are learning about the disease dynamics of Corona Virus Disease, new information on the genetic composition of SARS COV-2 , infection patterns as well as prevention and treatment is updated as each day dawns. What we are sure of is that this novel strain of coronavirus is highly contagious, and having crossed zoonoticaly to humans, it is imported from persons who are already infected with the virus. The cycle is that once an infected person coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets are produced and subsequently inhaled by a person who is close enough, within about six (6) feet. These droplets can also land on surfaces and can be picked up by people and introduced into the body. What we should know is that as with other communicable respiratory illnesses, COVID-19 is most contagious in people who are most symptomatic, although there will always be cases of pathogen carriers whose latent illnesses will cross over even when they are asymptomatic. This does not negate our caution that we all should carry around that everyone could be a carrier and a candidate for this pathogen.
Clinical evidence has shown that people whose active immunity is compromised for one reason or the other are at great risk of being infected with COVID-19 pathogen. What comes to mind is that the sick, the pregnant, the elderly and persons with other prevailing medical conditions are the most vulnerable to the pathogen. In fact, as has been demonstrated, there are people who will get infected with the virus, and win it over even without developing symptoms, or present mildly when they do. Knowledge on the behavioral pattern of the virus is still novel so our goal should be within not getting the virus as it will affect different persons differently. Having already known that exposure to the virus already predisposes us to possible infection, our person to person interactions should be at the minimum.
SYMTOMS OF CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19)
Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, most symptoms are synonymous with other respiratory tract infections. Be vigilant if you experience any of these symptoms; aggravated fever above 38 degrees Celsius (100F). When the pathogen gets introduced into you, the body identifies that a foreign pathogen has entered and tries to build up immunity by producing antibodies to actively combat the virus. This chain of counter reactive measures are usually our first sign that all is not well and something out of the ordinary is happening in our body. The incubation period of COVID-19 pathogen is thought to be around 1-14 days and most commonly around the fifth day. This is the time between catching the virus and when the first symptoms develop.
If your immunity is unable to suppress the infection, the disease progresses exhibiting more symptoms. A recent study carried out by the World Health Organization with a patient population of 55,000 in China, the origin country of the disease has analyzed the following symptoms being the most common. Of the host population, fever was reported in 88%, dry cough in 68%, fatigue in 38%, coughing up sputum or thick phlegm from the lungs in 33%, and shortness of breath reported in 19% of the patients. These additional symptoms were also reported and everyone experiencing them should be on the lookout. Bone or joint pains, headaches, body aches, nausea or vomiting, sore throat, stuffy nose or even diarrhea. If you have been in contact with a person from an area reporting COVID-19 infection, you will need to seek immediate medical attention for diagnosis and treatment.
RISK FACTORS THAT CAN LEAD ONE TO INFECTION
There are many risk factors that could predispose one to infection, the highest having a compromised immunity meaning that the symptoms will be more severe in people with other underlying conditions such as lung injury, other pulmonary infections or other diseases such as cancer that greatly weaken our immune system. Behavioral factors that precipitate disease progression are those that generally weaken the lungs such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. No one is safe though, everybody can and is at risk of contracting COVID-19 if they pick up the pathogens from the respiratory droplets of an infected person or pick them up from surfaces.
The virus has different life spans based on where it lands, and within different geographical regions. Logically, more humid areas will have the virus suspended more in the air as opposed to less humid regions. We know that the pathogen, as other coronaviruses is weakened by exposure to sun rays before introduction into the body. It will survive much longer on surfaces that are more sticky like metal and wooden. According to federal scientists and researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton, found out that SARS COV-2 can live for two to three hours in the air and on surfaces for up to three days. The study does not prove though that anyone has been infected from touching contaminated surfaces or breathing the pathogen particles from the air.
WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have come up with a raft of preventative measures aimed at controlling COVID-19 spread in homes and residential communities. These precautions will come in handy for household members, intimate partners and caregivers in a none-health care setting of a COVID-19 patient with symptomatic laboratory confirmed case or a suspected patient under investigation. Special attention should be on general hygiene. Since we can pick the virus from surfaces, hand washing with soap and running water for at least twenty seconds abrasively should do. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60-95% alcohol by volume, if available should be used. You should cover all surfaces of your hands with the sanitizer, rubbing them together until they feel dry. Avoid sharing household items with the patient. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly.
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Avoid sharing bathrooms and or toilets, and if they must be shared should be decontaminated appropriately.
Face masks and gloves where available should be disposed of properly after use. At all costs, avoid touching your face, the triangle of death encompassing the mouth, nose and the eyes as this is where the pathogen has a vantage entry point into your body. Household members should use a different room from a suspected patient to reduce contact as much as possible. Visitors should be discouraged into the patient’s room unless those delivering essential needs, and are also advised to adequately prevent themselves using laid out protocols in print and social media.
Different countries overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections and deaths are zeroing in on complete lockdown and it seems to be paying off. Persons who have recently traveled need to quarantine themselves for at least fourteen (14) days whether they feel well or unwell and should report any symptoms they may develop to their health care givers using available hotlines. China, after closing the epicenter, Wuhan city and restricting person to person contact, new infections have greatly reduced. Unless you really need to be out, stay at home if your area is marked high risk. Once you are out where the virus is looming, maintain social distancing of at least 2 meters from one person to the other, limiting the period you interact with them as much as possible.
Our behavioral patterns such as shaking hands, hugging and kissing are the very methods of transmitting COVID-19 pathogen and should be discouraged as much as possible. You would really not know who is carrying the virus, until they start developing symptoms and are tested negative so it is very important to limit unnecessary social gatherings especially large crowds in dismally ventilated spaces, bringing people close together within about less than 6 feet. Other measures that curb virus transmission are avoiding handling cash transactions because currency notes and coins could be carriers of the virus. Use cashless transactions for your financial needs.
Concerted efforts are being collaborated from different corners of the world to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Until then a time when we have a solution, our utmost care should be not to get infected. There is hope; many people who were infected with the pathogen have since fully recovered and tested negative of the virus. This, like many other pandemics that subdued us will also be defeated. It will be defeated if we adhere to prevention measures that have proven effective in controlling transmission.
If you think you could have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient, and are exhibiting symptoms, do not hesitate. Immediately seek medical attention. You will be tested and in case you test positive, your health care provider will treat you according to your symptoms. I hope that none of you gets infected, and will care to check yourself into your nearest health facility if you develop symptoms, or follow guidelines on seeking medical attention as laid out in your area, locale or country.
WHAT WE SHOULD OBSERVE
One thing we can predict for sure, we shall defeat this cataclysm. If not for COVID-19, we should always work towards having a robust immune system which helps us fight infections. Eat a well-balanced diet, eat your fruits, keep your body rehydrated and exercise even when at home Wishing you love and prayers wherever you are. As always, stay healthy and well.