As of April 6, 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) confirmed cases officially reached a staggering total of 1,289,010 with a global death toll of 70,599. Reportedly, it has widely affected over a hundred countries and territories.  The United States, which was only second to Italy with the most number of cases, now leads the list with the most number of confirmed cases worldwide. It was only late last year when the coronavirus surfaced in Wuhan, China. In just a matter of weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the situation pandemic after it has stricken tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

What is Coronavirus?

The Novel coronavirus, SARS-Cov-2, is a particle that contains RNA (ribonucleic acid) and proteins packaged into a very special design which, when it enters the body, can invade the cells of that body and make more of itself. You essentially become the host of the virus and it replicates in and spreads from cell to cell. Progression of the infection then causes illness with symptoms ranging from those similar to the common cold to more severe disease that requires hospitalization or causing death. However, we must note that not everyone who gets infected will experience and display symptoms. Consequently, most people may become exposed and infected and not know about it. This, in turn, leads to high chances of virus spread!

What are the Symptoms?

There still are a lot of things that we don’t know about the viral outbreak which is currently shutting down the world. Yet, what we know so far is that it can infect people of every age group, Ethan background and socioeconomic status. That’s right, this virus does not discriminate! That says certain people are especially at risk for developing the worst forms of the COVID-19 disease, following infection with SARS-Cov-2 virus and this includes those people with prior diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, lung disease, chronic smokers, immune compromised, heart disease and the elderly. Thus, it is important to be informed about the most common signs and symptoms of this infection when you or someone who you know falls into one of these categories. 

According to the WHO, respiratory symptoms (runny nose, cough, sneeze, shortness of breath), steady or intermittent fever, sore throat and painful breathing are amongst the most common early signs of infection. However, other early signs of infection can include headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, general fatigue and even loss of smell (anosmia). Pneumonia, severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), kidney failure, and even death, on the other hand, are usually seen later on during more severe cases of COVID-19 disease. 

How long is the Incubation Period for the COVID-19?

An incubation period is the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms of the infection. Based on current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms could appear as soon as two to four days after exposure or as late as 14 days after exposure. It is found that on average, the estimated incubation period (no symptoms) is about five to eight days. However, this may change as more studies emerge about the virus.

How to Prevent it?

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Lather up good and get in between your fingers and your nails, too. If you don’t have access to soap and water, cleanse with a 60% or higher alcohol-based sanitizer and pay good attention to nail beds, fingertips, and again, the spaces between your fingers. If you use an alcohol-based sanitizer, be sure to allow your hands to dry before touching any surfaces or your face. 
  2. If you feel sick, stay home or contact your healthcare provider. Use telemedicine to make contact with your doctor or healthcare provider, when possible. Using telemedicine decreases the chance of you transmitting your illness to others. Encourage your friends and coworkers to follow social distancing and self-quarantine if they are not feeling well. You should quarantine for at least 14 days after the day of your last possible exposure to the virus or an infected person. 
  3. Wear a mask and refrain from touching your face. If you feel sick and need to go to the doctor or the hospital, wear a mask. That’s how you protect others from your potential viral infection. Taking along an alcohol-based sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are handy hygiene aids, too.
  4. Do the laundry. Make sure to wash all your clothes, beddings and curtains.
  5. Clean your home. Wipe down all the hard surfaces in your house like countertops, sinks, toilets, doorknobs and stair rails using a diluted 10% bleach-based disinfectant.
  6. Practice Social Distancing. Maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet or 2 meters from others! Do not congregate!

Of course, don’t forget to get your flu (influenza) shots, aside from generally boosting your immune system. A flu shot won’t prevent Coronavirus infection but it could help our response to the outbreak. Many healthcare workers and hospital resources are already burdened by the inevitable increase of flu cases that come during the extended flu season. When coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, the health systems can be pushed to the brink of collapse! Therefore, we need to do our part by getting flu shots while our hospitals and healthcare workers battle to contain and treat COVID-19.