How prepared is India for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, it has spread across 112 countries and territories. It has affected more than 2,261,034 people, with 154,756 deaths and 578,964 recovered cases globally yet. In India, close to 15723 cases have been identified from Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Union Territory of Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Karnataka. With the threat of a full-scale pandemic growing by the day, governments around the world have shifted their focus to devising plans to contain the spread.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), various strategies and health measures have been taken up to contain the virus outbreak. These include rapid identification, diagnosis and management of the cases, identification and follow-up of the contacts, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings, implementation of health measures for travellers, awareness-raising in the population, and risk communication.
What is Coronavirus and how does it spread?
Coronavirus, an infectious disease, is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that can infect humans or animals. Seven types of human coronaviruses have been identified. The first four types (229E, NL63, OC43, and KHU1) are common and cause mild to moderate respiratory infections such as the common cold. The other two can cause illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This new strand of virus COVID-19 is transmitted between animals (Pangolins) and people. However, it can also be transmitted from an infected person through coughing and sneezing, physical contact like handshake/touching, touching nose, eyes, and mouth frequently with contaminated hands. The Government of India is also trying to stop the spread of rumours such as the virus being spread from chicken; that garlic, ginger, Vitamin C and lemon can protect people against the virus, etc., on the social media platform, that has affected poultry, people and industries.
Once the virus enters the body, the incubation period is usually 10-14 days but can vary from 1-14 days. Common signs of the infection include fever, dry cough, myalgia (soreness of the muscles), fatigue, etc. One may also have a cough, shortness of breath, headache, haemoptysis (coughing up blood), and diarrhoea. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
Who is at risk?
It can affect anyone; however, the elderly may be particularly susceptible to respiratory illness triggered by Covid-19 due to two main reasons. First, the increased tendency of the elderly to suffer from underlying health conditions that may hinder the body’s ability to cope with the virus and recover from the illness; and second, age-related weakening of the body’s immune system. This age group most often suffers from respiratory conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other conditions like heart disease or kidney problems. These conditions prevent the body from fighting the virus.
What can one do to protect themselves against the virus?
In India, the virus is spread through direct contact with an infected person. One can follow the activities listed below for protection and avoid further infections.
Stay alert: It is of utmost importance to get regular updates about the virus. Refrain from social media posts and rumours. Read all relevant information available from credible sources such as the WHO, or national/local public health authorities.
Practise health hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap. It kills the virus on your hands. Use sanitisers often.
Keep a distance: It is advisable to maintain a social distance of at least 1 metre from someone suspected to have an infection or who is continuously coughing or sneezing. There is a possibility that you may end up getting infected from the liquid droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze to stop spreading the infection.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth: Dirty hands might pick up the virus from different sources. Contaminated hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.
Avoid self-medication and seek medical help: Stay at home if you are not well, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose until you recover.
Avoid self-medication: If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention at the earliest. This way, you will be able to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of the virus.