Coronavirus and theCOVID-19 Pandemic: Facts we know till now!
From 28th to 31st December, few patients were admitted in Wuhan hospitals with features of upper respiratory infection and suddenly becoming critical needing ventilatory support. Their X-Ray showed pneumonia. Most of them succumbed to this devastating disease. Blood cultures and routine investigations could not identify the organism causing the disease. Polymerase Chain reaction (PCR) tests and next generation sequencing of the sample of the dead people showed a closed resemblance to the SARS virus. The epidemic of SARS virus occurred in 2002 killing about 800 people. Another epidemic of similar virus occurred in 2012-2013 in Middle East called MERS infection, killing about 500 people.
Going back to the cases seen in China, these patients who were admitted in the hospital had visited the wet market in Wuhan which sell many live animals like bat, reptiles and even monkeys and meat. Let me remind you that Bats are the reservoir of many viruses, including the Corona viruses. Since this virus belonged to the group of coronaviridae family, it’s called “Corona-virus”. Corona literally means “crown”. Hence the virus bears the name of Corona-n-19.The disease produced by this virus is called Covid-19. The “19” in the name stands for 2019- the year of discovery of the virus.
Spreading of the disease
The disease spreads by droplets infection. The virus primarily affects the respiratory system and eventually produces pneumonia with adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The disease has spread across the globe with a great pace; as people travelling across the globe from China carried it all over. We all know the worst affected country other than China is Italy. The northern part of Italy is well connected to Wuhan. More than a million Chinese work in the garment industry in Italy. Most of these visited Wuhan in the last week of January to celebrate the new year. When they returned from China to Italy they brought the virus with them. This how the virus has spread from human to human by close contact with sputum or respiratory secretions.
Clinically the patients have fever and/or cough(usually non productive). The patient quickly develops ARDS needing ventilatory support. Majority patients died as there is no specific treatment.
What can we do?
As we have no specific treatment, we MUST prevent disease spreading. Social distancing and using N95 mask can prevent the spread of virus. Staying at home can also prevent the spread of virus. Needless to say washing hands with soap and water can prevent the spread – as most of us keep on touching eyes and nose very often .
There are no approved medication as of now. Few reports have emerged from China and South Korea of using HCQ 400 mg and Azithromycin 500 mg twice a day for 15 days. ICMR has approved this regime as well. For close contacts HCQ 400 mg per week is recommended by few though not universally recommended due to high complication rates. Chloroquine phosphate (Lariago DS-500)can also be used instead of HCQ 400.
The best option now in India is to stay at home till next instructions, use mask & social distancing.
Hope you take care and eat healthy.