19th Mar, 2020
After first being reported on 31st December, 2019, in Wuhan, China, the new strain of virus, COVID-19, has quickly spread to 166 countries. The World Health Organisation has taken several measures to educate countries on how to handle the pandemic.
This is the first time that scientists and doctors have come across this virus, making it difficult to control the outbreak. As of 18th March, 2020, a total of 202,241 confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 and a death toll of 8,010 deaths have been reported so far.
Silver lining? There are 82,813 cured cases across countries, 13 of them in India.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause diseases in animals. Only seven of these viruses, including COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, are known to infect humans. Unlike SARS and MERS which are known to spread from bats, no one knows precisely which animal first transmitted Covid-19 to humans.
That being said, once infected, symptoms can show up anywhere from one day to two weeks after exposure. Unfortunately, asymptomatic carriers can spread the disease without realising that they are doing so, making it difficult to curb the spread of this virus.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is closely monitoring the situation of COVID-19, and issuing guidelines for medical practitioners and the general public. While only 2-digit test centres are equipped to carry out the COVID-19 test for a country with more than a billion people, the situation is not as bad as in the countries outside Asia.
Moreover, the Bureau of Immigration has also suspended all visas except those issued to Diplomats, Officials from United Nations or International organizations, and Employment Protect visas till April 15. This will help keep new carriers of the disease from entering India.
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when the infected person coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. One might also catch the disease by breathing in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.
On a personal level, you can avoid catching this virus by:
1) Avoiding public places
2) Washing your hands regularly
3) Eating thoroughly cooked food
4) Maintaining 3 feet distance from everybody
If you have mild symptoms like fever or a sore throat, you can take simple OTC medicines at home. In case of a sore throat, dilute a small amount of Cofsils Experdine Gargle with some water, and gargle for 30 seconds. Repeat it every 2-4 hours if needed. Its scientific formula (povidone-iodine 2%w/v) kills* 99.4% germs and gives you quick relief from throat infection with its 3-way action: anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. But if you develop cough, fever and body ache, do consult your healthcare practitioner.
Authorities say that there is no need to panic, but everyone should follow the guidelines they have dictated. If everyone acts responsibly, we can prevent this pandemic from spreading any further. Stay safe and be vigilant.
Kanagalingam J, Feliciano R, et.al. Practical use of povidone-iodine antiseptic in the maintenance of oral health and in the prevention and treatment of common oropharyngeal infections. Int J Clin Pract. 2015 Nov; 69(11):1247-56.