Coronavirus outbreak in China has sent alarm bells ringing all over the world. The death toll has crossed 100, and according to the latest updates, more than 4500 people have already been diagnosed with coronavirus and 1000 are in a critical state. While Chinese officials are scrambling to contain the outbreak, countries across the world are urging people not to travel to China, and are evacuating their citizens from China. India, being its neighbour is rattled and is ramping up the vigil at checkpoints, airports and hotels near its border with China, so that travellers can be screened for any sign of the virus. More than 100 people are currently under observation in India.
The whole world is on the edge with this new virus that falls in the same category as the destructive SARS and MERS viruses. Naturally, people are asking, “How dangerous is coronavirus?” To answer that as well as some other basic questions on this disease, we have prepared a factsheet.
What is a coronavirus and how is it transmitted?
The world has very little experience in dealing with coronavirus. All those researchers and doctors know for sure are that these crown-shaped viruses spread the same way as common cough and cold or flu viruses do. Some of the most common ways through which these viruses spread are:
- Contact with an infected person.
- Inhaling air containing droplets released from the infected person when he/she sneezes or coughs. If a person with coronavirus sneezes or coughs within 6 feet of you, you are likely to contract the disease.
- Touching anything (like doorknobs) that has been touched by a person infected with the coronavirus.
- Touching your own face, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands that might contain the virus.
It is not yet known how long the viruses can survive on any solid surface. Neither do they know for sure about the duration of the incubation period. The tentative guess is that it takes 14 days before the symptoms of coronavirus surfaces in an infected person.
What are the signs and symptoms of coronavirus?
The symptoms of coronavirus are pretty much the same as those of flu or a common cold. This is why people don’t realize that they have been infected with coronavirus, and not some innocuous case of a cough and cold or any other upper respiratory disease. Some of the common symptoms are:
- Running nose
- Blocked nasal passages
- Sore throat
- Pain in the sinuses
- Shortness of breath
How dangerous is coronavirus?
If the symptoms resemble those of flu, how dangerous can coronavirus be? Coronavirus can actually spread to the lower respiratory system and that is when it becomes dangerous. It can lead to a severe case of pneumonia. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that coronavirus can also cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), gastrointestinal problems and even kidney failure. These complications can prove to be fatal.
Risk Factors of coronavirus infection
Some people are more likely to contract the infection caused by coronavirus than others, because of certain risk factors such as:
- Being a senior citizen
- Having a weak immunity
- Suffering from a heart disorder
How is coronavirus diagnosed?
Since the whole world has been alerted about the spread of coronavirus, when you go to a doctor with the symptoms we mentioned earlier, he will screen you for coronavirus. You will first be given a physical examination, after which the doctor will recommend:
- Blood tests
- Throat and nose swabs
These samples will then be sent to a laboratory where they will be scrutinized under a microscope. If the unique crown-shaped viruses are present in your samples, then you will be diagnosed with coronavirus infection.
Can coronavirus be treated?
There is no special treatment for coronavirus. Your doctor will prescribe anti-viral medicines to kill the viruses and stop them from spreading further. You will also have to take aspirins to deal with fever and headaches. Lots of fluids with electrolytes will keep you hydrated and help you recover.
If the infection proceeds to pneumonia or any other complications, your doctor will implement treatment for that specific illness. You might also get hospitalized.
What are the precautions for coronavirus?
Since coronavirus is a contagious disease, you can adopt a few measures to minimize your exposure and risk:
- Exercise caution near people who look like they have contracted a cold.
- If you are using public transport and washrooms, wash your hands thoroughly and use a hand sanitizer.
- Clean yourself thoroughly every day.
- Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands.
- Wear a mask that can purify the air you are breathing in.
The coronavirus attack has got everyone scared. But sometimes being scared is good, because it ensures that people are taking the right measures and precautions.