Coronavirus is the latest topic globally and people are becoming scared day by day. It indeed is a matter of concern, but you do not have to be scared about it so much. Since the origin of the virus in Wuhan, China, more than 65,000 people are affected so far and almost 1400 had grave consequences, but the rest of the world is not affected as much because of alertness and early warning.
This coronavirus is mainly carried by the animals and it can be transmitted from animals to animals, animals to humans and humans to humans. Similar kind of viruses have also infected people in the past, in the form of SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS) and MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS), and the world has contained its infection successfully.
Coronavirus is mainly transmitted by inhalation and infects the respiratory tract, but not all infected people get the symptoms. Our body's immune system fights against this virus and we do not suffer, some people get mild sickness but mostly it is cleared by the immune system. A person who has a weak immune system or for some reason has compromised immune system e.g. has diabetes, respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart and kidney transplant, receiving chemotherapy or suffering from any sort of cancer are most vulnerable. Children and elderly people are also vulnerable due to relatively weaker immune system. The healthy adults are at low risk of infection.
How to know if you are infected: You have to inhale the virus from an affected person and after the incubation period of 10 – 14 days you may suffer from running nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, mild fever, headache, and body ache. Most people recover from these symptoms within a week. But children and those who have other diseases may suffer severe symptoms like severe cough, high temperature, severe respiratory distress, coughing of blood, difficulty in breathing similar severe pneumonia.
What to do if you are infected: Immediately report to the nearest hospital, if it is not possible to stay at home, take paracetamol tablets to control fever, keep your body well hydrated, and within the earliest possible time seek medical help.
Awareness is very important to prevent unnecessary fear about coronavirus. Social media has a great role to make people alert. Frequent advisories should be broadcasted on television, radio, and newspapers. All entry ports of the country should be well equipped to screen the travellers arriving from abroad. There should be an isolation ward in every hospital to isolate the affected patient. A team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in every hospital should be ready round the clock to deal with the emergency if it occurs.
The writer is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Z H Sikder Women's Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka.