COVID-19 – A Global Pandemic:

To be understood, not to be feared.

1- What is Covid-19?
COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease), a highly infectious illness caused by a novel corona virus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS COV-2), which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan city, China. It was initially reported to WHO on December 31, 2019 and on March 11, 2020 the WHO declared COVID -19 a global pandemic.

2- How is it transmitted?
1. Direct spread: Through potentially infective respiratory droplets (while sneezing, coughing or talking)
2. Indirect spread: Transmission through fomites in the immediate environment around the infected person.
3. Faecal-oral spread: Studies also suggest that infection can spread through contact with an infected person’s stool.
4. Asymptomatic spread: The virus most often spreads through people who have symptoms, but it may be possible to get the infection from people not showing any symptoms and signs.
5. Pre-symptomatic spread: Any person can pass on the infection, before noticing the signs or symptoms of infection.

3- How does the virus behave inside human body?
Whenever a person comes in contact with a COVID-19 positive person, on an average it takes 3-7 days for the virus to show up the symptoms, however it can take up to 14 days. The virus stays for about 28 days in the body. The virus genome consists of a single strand of positive sense RNA (Ribonucleic Acid).

4- What are the symptoms?
Most common presenting symptoms: Fever, dry cough, breathlessness and tiredness.
Less common: Diarrhoea, headache, sore throat, aches and pains, loss of taste and smell, skin rash and conjunctivitis.
Most of the infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalisation whereas only those presenting with serious symptoms of difficulty in breathing or chest pain need immediate medical attention and hospitalisation.

5- How is it diagnosed?
1. By RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) - A method to detect the virus itself. Most accurate method for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2
Sampling is usually done by oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swabs.
2. Rapid antibody test- It is a serological (blood) test where antibodies are detected which are produced in response to infection. Not a very reliable test for diagnosis as the duration and effectiveness of this immune response are still unclear.

7- Who is more prone?
1. Kids less than 5yrs and adults more than 65yrs
2. Immune compromised patients.
  • Cancer patients
  • Patients on transplants
3. Patients with comorbid and chronic illnesses.
4. Healthcare providers.

8- How can it be prevented?
1. Stay home: Avoid gatherings, public places unless very important. Adapt working from home and order basic needs online, this will avoid unnecessary contact with people. Follow the rules of lock down and quarantine.
2. Social distancing: Maintain a safe distance (approx. 6ft) while interactions.
3. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
4. Proper hand hygiene: Clean hands properly and from time to time with soap and water for about 20 seconds or else an alcohol based (at least 60%) for sanitizing hands.
5. Always cover the nose or mouth with a tissue paper or a handkerchief while sneezing or coughing.
6. Wear a face mask all the time
7. Use gloves for important tasks and change frequently.
8. Improve body immunity by practicing good habits

9- How does the face mask help?
Use of masks:
  • 1. General public can use a normal cloth mask so as to prevent spreading of droplets while talking, sneezing or coughing
  • 2. Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol based hand rub or soap and water.
  • 3. Avoid touching the mask while using it and replace it with a new one as soon as it is damped.
  • 4. Do not reuse single use masks.
  • 5. Make sure there are no gaps between the face and the mask. It should be airtight and breathable through the nose.
  • 6. Remove the mask from behind by holding the string and never touch the front portion of the mask.
  • 7. N95 masks should be used rationally and reserved for healthcare providers as recommended by current CDC guidelines.

10- What is the role of gloves in preventing spread of Corona virus?
Use of gloves:
  • 1. For the general public, wearing gloves is required only while cleaning or taking care of someone who is sick.
  • 2. Do not disinfect disposable gloves or reuse them.
  • 3. Wearing gloves outside while shopping or in office will not necessarily protect and may still spread the virus.

11- How can we increase the immunity?
Taking care of body and boosting immunity:
  • 1. Don’t compromise on sleep. Have a good 7-8 hour sleep so as to give the body adequate time to rest and repair itself
  • 2. Stay hydrated, drink up to 8-10 glasses of water every day. Hydration will help to flush out the toxins from the body. Juices made of citrus fruits and coconut water are also recommended.
  • 3. Exercise 30-40 minutes daily depending on the body stamina. Regular exercise improves the body metabolism and immunity.
  • 4. Destress by practising meditation, listening to music and doing yoga.
  • 5. Avoid smoking, alcohol and other addictive substances.
  • 6. Take adequate supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc.
  • 7. Follow the guidelines given by Ministry of AYUSH and the Ayurveda’s immunity boosting measures.
  • 8. Take a healthy and balanced diet, preferably home-cooked food.

12- What is the Advice to neuro patients?
  • 1. Emergencies like head injury, haemorrhage and large tumors should immediately be treated at a good neurosurgical centre
  • 2. Semi emergencies like severe back ache and neck pain, should be reported to spine specialist immediately.
  • 3. Patients of Stoke, epilepsy and other chronic neuro spine illnesses need special care and attention.
  • 4. Take your prescribed medicines at time. Doing household chores and work from home may cause neck pain and backache, exercise regularly,take precautions and be safe at home.
  • 5. Use teleconsultation for your queries during the course of treatment.

13- What is the Road towards treatment?
Treatment usually involves symptomatic relief in mild to moderate patients, while in seriously ill patients antiviral drugs like Remdesivir and Favipiravir can be tried. These seriously ill patients may require oxygen therapy and mechanical ventilation at some point of treatment. Role of plasma therapy and monoclonal antibodies is also coming up in such patients.
Several drug trials are still going on and there is currently no proof of any other drug which can cure/prevent COVID-19.

14- What are the various Myths assosciated with Covid-19 and their clarification?
  • 1. Adding pepper to soup or other meals does not prevent or cure COVID-19.
  • 2. It is not transmitted through houseflies or mosquitos.
  • 3. Introducing bleach or another disinfectant into the body will not protect against COVID-19 and can be dangerous.
  • 4. Drinking methanol or ethanol is not. the solution and can be dangerous.
  • 5. Exposing to the sun or the temperatures higher than 25 degree Celsius does not prevent the disease.
  • 6. Once infected does not mean you have it for life. Patients recover.
  • 7. Drinking alcohol does not protect from this virus and it is dangerous.
  • 8. COVID-19 can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climate.
  • 9. Cold weather and snow cannot kill the coronavirus.
  • 10. Taking a hot bath does not prevent the disease.
  • 11. UV lamps should not be used to disinfect the hands and other areas of the skin.
  • 12. Thermal scanners cannot detect COVID-19. They are effective in detecting a higher body temperature than normal which may be due to any other cause.
  • 13. Vaccines for any other disease does not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine and researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 illness.
  • 14. Regularly rinsing the nose with saline cannot protect from this virus.
  • 15. 15. Antibiotics do not work against these viruses unless a co-bacterial infection is present.

15- When will everything go back to normal?
This question has struck almost everyone at least once in a day ever since we went into a nationwide lockdown. This ongoing pandemic has forced the entire world into an unprecedented situation beyond anyone’s imagination.
Marie Curie wrote- “nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood”. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Science, Economy and Society will be limping towards normalcy in upcoming months as lockdown eases. Need of the hour is to sustain the momentum and carry forward the lessons learnt from this pandemic and TRY TO LIVE WITH IT.