While certain symptoms of coronavirus are similar to that of a common cold or viral infection, it is necessary to distinguish between the two.
By Dr Rakesh Chawla
Outbreak of coronavirus throughout the world has created a panic and turbulence among the masses. And with the recent cases of the infection affecting Indians, nation has adopted a precautious mode. While it is a necessary step for preventing the spread of the Novel Coronavirus infection, people are even terror-struck, by seasonal flu.
One of the major complications in accurately detecting the novel coronavirus is the long and uncertain period of incubation which is around 14 days. This gives an ample time for the infections to spread rapidly. Widespread availability of diagnostic facility being the need of the hour, it is also advised to the treating doctors and other medical assistance for protection as they are highly vulnerable even during a potential case look up.
While certain symptoms of coronavirus are similar to that of a common cold or viral infection, it is necessary to distinguish between the two. Though symptoms in most patients may vary from being asymptomatic to even being seriously ill and need immediate medical attention, the usual symptoms include – fever, cough and running nose accompanied by shortness of breath.
Misconceptions around N COVID 19
While the virus is common in different species of animals, it has now spread to humans through close contacts via respiratory droplets generated through sneezing or coughing. People need to overcome the various misconceptions leading to fear among them –
1. N-COVID transmission occurs through air
Ans – This is not true. The virus spreads through close contacts with person to person via respiratory droplets generated through sneezing or coughing.
2. While there is a misconception that the virus only spreads through symptomatic infectants, many such cases have been recorded where the virus has been transmitted through asymptomatic infectants also. It is thus the foremost priority to seek primary prevention through keeping self-hygiene. The uncertainty of the incubation period is upto 14 days.
3. Consuming alcohol and washing hands regularly with it prevents coronavirus infection.
Ans – While alcohol in any amount is injurious to health, there is no proven study to support it. Though alcohol-based hand rubs may be used, but drinking alcohol to avoid infection of n-COVID 2019 is purely a misconception.
4. Only elderly population is vulnerable to catch the virus and not the kids and children
Ans – While the geriatric population may have other co-morbidities like asthma, wheezing or any other respiratory ailments along with a diminished immunity, makes them more vulnerable to infections. But this doesn’t make only them the victims of the virus, but people of all age and gender are equally vulnerable.
5. Intake of Vitamin C in the diet form or as supplements keeps one away from catching the virus.
Ans – Vitamin C is a natural immunity booster and helps in improving the immune functions, keeping the body away from various types of ailments, its prevention for coronavirus has not been proven yet. Though there are no scientific evidences to support the fact that intake of vitamin C (in both forms direct or additional supplementation) in prevention of the n-COVID2019 but Vitamin C is helpful in increasing the production of white blood cells and to fighting infections.
People need not panic in case of any of the symptoms. They should get tested for flu initially, and only in case of negative results, must undergo PCR Throat swab culture, which is used to diagnose n-corona virus. Including a healthy diet, it is also advised to avoid eating processed food, non-veg, and avoid travelling to crowded places. As safety measures provided by the government, people should wash their hands regularly, avoid travelling if possible to other countries.
It is advised Always wash your hands with soap or alcohol-based rub and seek immediate medical advice in case of flu-like symptoms for ruling out the condition. Though Indians usually do not prefer to consume undercooked or raw meat/ animal products, still avoid raw animal product.
First Anti-viral drug approved is Favilavir, also known as Fapilavir with existing medication and supportive treatment can provide relief. Though antidote may be developed with time constraints, any new drug developed need to undergo four phase trials. Thus, the treatment lies with the existing medications and the treating doctors who provides patients with several medications may accidentally find the best suited drug for patient stability.
(The author is Senior Consultant, Respiratory Medicine, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi. Views expressed are personal.)