HOUSTON, March 23, 2020 – The latest coronavirus strategy is to stop the spread and mitigate the impact of infection. Now, it is more critical and very urgent to stay home, stop the spread, and save lives.
The Coronavirus has incited panic and fear worldwide, with very rapid and uncontrolled positive cases in many cities worldwide. Now, we are fighting a global war with an invisible enemy, the COVID-19 virus. It is the most catastrophic event we ever witnessed in our lifetime. It has already is devastated many countries and spreading rapidly in India and both Telugu states.
Coronavirus is about 50-times more serious and lethal than flu viruses. Presently, there is no medical treatment and no vaccine available for combating this respiration infection. Scientists have never seen anything like this before; there is long way head and we must adapt to rapid responses with daily information or updates.
The coronavirus mainly spreads through airborne droplets (such as from coughs, sneezes, spit, laughter, or talking) between people who are within about 6 feet of each other. It can also transfer from infected surfaces to the mouth, eyes, or nose through direct contact or intermediate contact via the hands, after touching surfaces that have the virus on them, such as objects, phones, or doorknobs.
Mild or serious signs may appear within 3 days to 13 days after exposure. The most common symptoms are fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue or body pains; these can eventually progress to serious lung damage and death. Not all people show the same set of symptoms.
Coronavirus affects everyone, including children and adults. It is fatal to older people and adults with health conditions (diabetes, BP, cancer, heart & kidney ailments, asthma and lung diseases) are more susceptible to serious infections or death. Lymphocytopenia (reduced white blood cells) is observed early and then pneumonia occurs in severe cases. Men are at more risk than women. It is also affecting children with serious outcomes.
How to survive from this virus. Here are some tips to stop the spread and mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
Avoid crowds and keep your distance from others (social distancing). Since this virus can be transmitted through the air (spreads by air droplets from coughs, sneezes, laughter, etc.) the best way to limit its spread is through “social distancing” or keeping a safe distance from other people. Since we do not know who is infected or carrying the virus until they are tested positive or show serious symptoms (fever, cough, breathing problems), the safest option is to stay home for a few weeks to limit risk of exposure. The chances of catching infection are higher from breathing air in crowded or contaminated places (the virus is viable for 3 h in the air). It is highly contagious than the flu; it takes 4 to 14 days to show full-blown symptoms such as high fever. It spreads from both symptomatic (with fever and cough) and asymptomatic (no symptoms yet) persons. If you urgently need to go a public or crowded place with a suspected outbreak, use a scarf or facemask, avoid large crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Frequently wash hands with soap in the home, office, and travel (good hygiene). Since this virus is airborne, infected droplets can settle and persist on the surface of common objects like metal doors and utensils for 4 to 72 h, a thorough hand washing can clear such contamination. At every place, frequently wash your hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizers or sprays containing >60% alcohol are an alternative when soap and water are not available. Avoid shaking hands when greeting others.
Proper sanitation of surfaces with disinfectants like Clorox and Lysol are extremely helpful to kill settled virus particles. Frequently clean common points of contact like doors, elevator knobs, kitchen surfaces, toilets, and home entry surfaces with Clorox or Lysol solution. Also, surface clean all objects brought into the home, including cloths, objects and grocery bags. A mild soap water is good for cleaning vegetables brought from the street or flea markets. Clean all kitchen utensils with soap water and more frequently wash clothes. Avoid sharing utensils and objects with others. A household bleach is also effective to cleanse the virus when properly diluted. This virus can stay alive in refrigerator for many days; use a cloth soaked with Clorox solution (1 ml in 1000 ml water) to disinfect the stuff in the refrigerator.
Since this virus enters the body through the nose and mouth (from contaminated air and objects), limit touching or rubbing your face with your hands, especially around the nose, mouth, chin and eyes. Touching facial mucous membranes – the nose, eyes and mouth – gives the virus a source of entry into your body. Face washing is helpful every time you come home from outside.
We are at unprecedented time with big uncertainty. It is hard to predict when this epidemic will end, but do your best to increase your chances to stay healthy for next 3-4 weeks. Stay home; take balanced food rich in probiotics (curd, yogurt). Also, get plenty of sleep and stop drinking and smoking for better combating infection. Again, minimize trips to crowds or markets to reduce your chances of exposure.
The author, Dr. Samba Reddy, is a reputed medical scientist in Texas. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this scientific article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of any institute or agency or the U.S.