What you need to know about COVID-19: Identifying Symptoms and Busting Myths

The entire world has been struck by a crisis, something which was unforeseen, something which is new and something which nobody knows yet how to deal with. Yes, we are talking about the COVID-19 outbreak, the Coronavirus attack, which has definitely brought the world to a standstill. As more and more countries adopt for a lockdown to contain the spread of this virus, people continue to work and research and try and find a cure or a vaccine for this viral disease. Every passing day sees some new data being published about the virus and it is really difficult to tell which is for sure and which is not.

Let us first try and understand what really the Coronavirus is.

Coronavirus is a strain of the virus that belongs to a large family. Previously, it was believed that the virus is transmitted from animal to animal, but the pandemic at hand has shown that this virus can be transmitted from humans to humans as well.

It is important to note here that COVID-19 and Coronavirus are not the same. The Coronavirus is the virus family in question, while COVID-19 is the name of the disease that has been caused by it. This disease is a recent one and was detected first in the Hubei province of China from where it is believed to have spread across the globe. The worst affected by this virus is surprisingly not China, which is slowly coming out of a lockdown mode, but Italy, specifically the Lombardy region. Why? Because this virus is potentially fatal for elderly people and this region records the highest number of elderly populations in Western Europe.

So, how did the disease start to spread?

Well, there are many conjectures about it, but the first recorded case comes from China’s Hubei province. This virus which was believed to transmitted only from animal to animal, which mutated and became a virus that can transmit from animal to human and then from human to human. The virus spreads primarily through contact though it has been recently suggested that the virus can survive for a couple of minutes in the air as well. As people from China started getting affected, some people showed symptoms, while others didn’t till about the second week of the infection, and hence, it became very difficult to know who was infected and who wasn’t. The country allowed movement within and abroad, and hence, the virus began to spread, and today, there is hardly any nation which is not affected by it.

How can we stop this?

There are people who are working day and night to figure out a way to stop the spread of this virus while there are others who are committed to treating the ones who are already affected. What we need to realize is that every person has a role to play if this virus is to be defeated. Everyone must realize their civic duty and the measures that they need to take. There is enough awareness all around about this virus, and hence, it is necessary that the right precautions be taken.

Social distancing is believed to be the most effective way to stop this virus from spreading further. This is the reason why many countries have gone into lockdown and have suspended almost all activities apart from a few to keep the economy afloat. It is essential that when people go out, they wear masks and keep their hands and fingers covered. This is a must. Self-isolation is a major necessity for those who are showing symptoms.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The World Health Organization is working day and night to control this pandemic, and it is absolutely essential for all to understand and identify the symptoms of it. So, how do you know if a person is affected?

• Having a fever is believed to be one of the tell-tale signs of this infection
• Along with it, sore throat
• Dry coughing
• And trouble breathing

The symptoms are simple enough, but the problem arises because they are common too. They are very similar to that of common cold and cough as well and considering the period in which it hit the countries; it is a time when a lot of people do suffer from common cough and cold.

So, how can one tell the difference? Well, it is difficult.

For starters, fever is almost a must symptom of having this infection. Shortness of breath or having serious problems breathing is another thing. As the virus progresses throughout the body, extreme fatigue overtakes the individual. One feels extremely tired, and on top of that, it is accompanied by cough. So, these are some of the tell-tale signs that one is infected with the Coronavirus.

However, it is also important to remember that the symptoms might take time to appear. In some people, the symptom might start appearing as early as the day of the infection, while, for others, it takes way more time, extending to up to 10 days.

So, there is a basic safety protocol that needs to be followed. For starters, those who have a travel history during this period, they should go into self-isolation. For those who are coughing and experiencing breathing trouble, should seek medical help and go for a test. In fact, those who have partaken international travel should immediately get themselves tested. To be on the safe side, wearing masks and gloves and washing hands at frequent intervals is a must.

Breaking Myths About the Disease

While it is important to stay wary of the signs and symptoms of this disease, it is also important to make sure that you do not fall prey to false awareness. In this age of social media, and with people facing a lockdown, a lot of fake news, facts, data are circulating in vast numbers in the market. Which source is reliable, and which is not has indeed become the question of the hour? Does Coronavirus only kill the elderly? Is the Coronavirus there in chicken? A lot of questions of this nature are floating around to which many untrue and baseless facts are being circulated.

In order to clear the confusion, here are a few myths being broken by none other than the World Health Organization. Let’s take a look:

• To begin with, anyone can be affected by this virus. It is not just the elderly who are at risk. Someone who is suffering from other medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension etc. are more at risk, irrespective of their age. Thus, safety precautions are meant for all.

• Very recently, the WHO has suggested that the virus might survive in the air for just a few minutes, contrary to the previous understanding that it is not an airborne virus. Thus, wearing masks has become more of a necessity than a choice.

• A lot of people have garlic to boost their immune system. Other home remedies are also regularly consumed by people to keep their system in order. But these are not proven methods to cure the disease or even prevent the virus from attacking the individual in question.

• There is a rumour going around that one’s cats and dogs are more susceptible to this disease because the virus is also being transmitted through animals, but there has been no evidence so far regarding this matter, where someone has been infected through their pet.

• True, mosquitoes can act as the transmitter of various viral infection; there is no evidence to suggest that the Coronavirus is being transmitted through mosquito bites. So, do not panic.

• If you take a hot bath, it is not a proven method to keep away the virus. It is important to maintain personal hygiene as a precaution, but it is not a prevention.

• Recent findings show that the virus is mutating and adapting itself, and hence, can survive in both hot and cold climates, which is antithetical to the earlier assumption that it cannot survive in extreme temperatures.

• A lot of people have been made to believe that hotter and more humid the climate of a place is, higher are the chances of the virus not surviving, but this is not true.

• If you think hand dryers would help kill the virus, well, the WHO says that there is no such evidence to show that.

• A lot of offices and airports are using thermal scanners. When a person is entering the premises, they are being scanned with the thermal scanner. A lot of people are of the opinion if they pass the thermal scanner test, they are free of the Coronavirus, but that is not the case. This scanner is only to check the body temperature of a person and see whether they have a fever or not. These scanners cannot in any way determine whether you have the Coronavirus in you or not.

• There are two types of tests that are being conducted. One to test for the virus and the other to check for antibodies. The antibodies test might falter, and hence, it cannot always show the true results in the first 5-7 days after the infection. Thus, in the initial stages, it is important to go for a direct test for the virus. The antibody test shows whether or not one has the antibodies in them to fight the virus and if they do it means that they had contracted the virus and the body has produced enough antibodies to drive it away.

• If you were under the impression that having taken influenza or pneumonia vaccine shot will prevent this virus from attacking you, then think again. They do not help.

• It is very important to remember that contrary to popular belief, having an antibiotic will cure the disease; it is not the case. Antibiotics are meant only for bacterial infections, and hence it, will not help in curing COVID-19. So, if you see that you are responding to antibiotics, relax, it’s not COVID-19 that you have.

• There are the names of a couple of medicines that are doing rounds that claim to be treating the virus. But there has been no such confirmed medicine yet. So, do not fall prey to these rumors.

• A lot of people are saying that if one bath in alcohol or chlorine water, it will wash away the virus is which already inside the body, but this is not true.

• Most expert doctors are of the opinion that like any other viral fever, this can be treated only with symptomatic management, i.e. by treating the symptoms. When and how this virus will leave your body or die, is a big question.

• After receiving treatment, there is no guarantee that you are not a carrier of the virus anymore. You need to get yourself tested and remain in isolation as long as it shows you positive for the virus.

These are hard times, and people have a lot of time in their hands, which is why they are turning to social media, where a lot of untrue data is being circulated. Thus, it is important to stay aware and collect your information only from the most credible of sources.

In a time of such a pandemic, you need to do your part, and that begins by being properly aware of the disease. Learn more about it and understand how it is working. Remember that the virus is changing, and hence, anything can happen. The basic protocol of social distancing is a must which will help in containing the virus. This is something that needs to be fought together but definitely maintaining a distance. Be sympathetic towards the ones who are going through depression during the lockdown. Maintain all the safety measures when you step out of the house to get your essential requirements. If you have a family member, relative or friend who you know has a travel history, ask them to get themselves tested and remain in self-isolation. Follow the same if you have a recent travel history.

Stay safe and take care of the safety, health, and needs of others, all the while maintaining social distancing.

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