COVID-19 Updates

An infectious virus, COVID 19 pandemic gust-like storm on a dazzling day, was discovered in China and spread worldwide, forcing a global halt of social, academic, and economic activities (Sharma & Bhaskar, 2020). The devastation caused by the dreaded pandemic may take years to heal.

Origin: Coronaviruses, a member of the virus family called “corona” because crown-like spikes found on the virus’s surface cause respiratory illness in humans.

The new strain of coronavirus —Covid-19 is an acronym derived from “coronavirus disease 2019”, chosen to avoid stigmatizing the virus’s origins in terms of populations, geography, or animal associations.

Where do Corona Viruses come from?

Coronaviruses are often found in bats, cats, and camels that live in but do not infect the SARS animals. Sometimes these viruses may transfer to different animal species. Eventually, the virus can mutate from animal species to humans and starts infecting. 

History:

Covid-19 referred to a ‘respiratory illness caused by a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (-CoV-2)”, initially discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

It was initially reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019, later declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an outbreak of a global health emergency on January 30, 2020.

Additionally, WHO declared Covid-19 a distressing pandemic on March 11, 2020, its first designation since declaring H1N1 influenza a pandemic in 2009.

Covid Spread across the Globe: Covid-19 pandemic spiraled the globe by affecting 223 countries over 271,773,724 confirmed cases and accumulated 5,337,714 causalities to date (WHO, 2021).  

How do you get infected with COVID-19?

COVID-19 enters into the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes. It can directly come from the airborne droplets or the transfer of the virus from hands to the face of an individual. The virus travels to the back of your nasal passages and throat. It attaches to cells and moves into lung tissue to spread to the other body tissues.

How does COVID-19 spread from person to person?

Covid-19 is likely to spread from person to person via;

  • Respiratory droplets released by an infected person into the air during cough, sneeze, talk, sing or breathe (within 6 feet).
  • Having close contact (touching, shaking hands) with an infected person.
  • Touching a contaminated surface.

Symptoms of Covid-19:

A person is infected with Covid-19 if they have the following symptoms or a combination of these:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

An individual may face the symptoms mentioned earlier between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Older adults and patients with heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk of getting life-threatening consequences/complications from COVID-19.

Moreover, an individual requires immediate medical attention in the presence of the following warning symptoms;

  • Trouble breathing
  • Continuous pain or chest pressure
  • Inability to wake up from sleep

Diagnosis of Coronavirus:

The person who has the symptoms, as mentioned earlier, is recommended by the health care provider to get an immediate laboratory test to diagnose Covid-19.

For this, medical staff is required to collect the saliva sample or swab the nose or throat of the specific person suspected to be infected from covid-19.

Requirement of Self-isolation for Covid Patient:

If a person is found covid positive, should self-isolate for typically 14-days or until and unless covid-19 symptoms disappeared. For self-isolation, a person must be confined within a separate room to limit interaction with other family members or social circles. Otherwise;

  • Stay 6 feet away from others
  • Wear a cloth mask
  • Wash your hands often
  • Frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces and shared areas

Treatment of Covid-19:

There is no approved medication or treatment for covid-19 patients. While, depending on the severity of COVID infection, you can take;

  • Supplemental oxygen.
  • Mechanical ventilation.
  • Medications can be given to keep patients comfortable and sleepy as long as they are receiving oxygen through a ventilator.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
  • Continue to receive treatment while a machine pumps blood outside the body.

Vaccines for Coronavirus Patients:

As per the recommendations of Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone is required to get vaccinated to get rid of the risk of Covid-infection.

It is worth mentioning the fact that no vaccines are 100% effective. In fact, a fully vaccinated person can also get infected; it can minimize the risk of a severe illness or death from a breakthrough infection but cannot nullify it altogether.

Recommended Vaccines

Pfizer-BioNTech Moderna Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen
Ages Recommended 5 or above years old 18 or above years old 18 or above years old
Primary Series 2 Doses (Given 3 weeks apart) 2 Doses (Given 4 weeks apart) 1 dose
When fully vaccinated 2 weeks after 2nd dose 2 weeks after 2nd dose 2 weeks after 1st dose

Different Variants of Coronavirus:

There are different coronavirus variants reported to date, which can change (mutate), spread faster from person to person, and cause more severe disease. In December 2020, B.1.1.7 (a new variant) was identified in the UK.

Since then, variants have appeared in other locations worldwide, including B.1.351 etc. One of these is the ‘delta variant,’ which arises from Pango lineage: B.1.617.2. As of September 2021, delta is designated as the most contagious form of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

More specifically, alpha, beta, gamma, and delta variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are classified as ‘variants of concern’.

The ominous clouds of coronavirus don’t come to an end, as a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 was reported to the WHO on November 24, 2021.

This new variant was first identified in specimens collected from Botswana and South Africa on November 11, 2021, and November 14, 2021. Moreover, the US designated Omicron as a ‘Variant of Concern’ on November 30, 2021, and the first confirmed case of Omicron was identified on December 1, 2021, in the U.S.

Essential Facts about the new variant of Coronavirus ‘Omicron.’

  • Omicron spread: The Omicron variant will spread more quickly than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Omicron infection can spread to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
  • Illness caused by Omicron: It is mainly observed that omicron infection causes more severe disease or death than infection with other variants.
  • Effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron: Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness caused by the Omicron variant.
  • Treatments against Omicron: Due to the new genetic make-up of Omicron, some existing treatments of coronavirus are likely to remain effective, while others may be less effective.

Recommended Actions against Omicron:

For Countries:

  • Enhance surveillance and sequencing of cases
  • Share genuine data of omicron cases
  • Perform field investigations and laboratory assessments 
  • Continue to implement effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 spread
  • Address the inequities urgently in access to COVID-19 vaccines

For People:

  • Keep a physical distance of at least 1 meter from others
  • Wear a well-fitting mask
  • Open windows to improve ventilation
  • Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces
  • Keep hands clean
  • Cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue
  • Get vaccinated immediately

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