McXtra Care | Special Edition: COVID 2019

Understanding Coronavirus


 Is the current Coronavirus a new virus?


Coronavirus is a species of virus that is primarily found in Bats. Humans are not routinely infected. However, periodically the Coronavirus can undergo a mutation (change in its genetic material) into a new virus subspecies (strain). It can then ‘jump’ from Bats to Humans, through other animals that humans commonly come in contact with as food products in ‘wet’ markets or otherwise. A mutated Coronavirus can also originate from a research laboratory where it is being studied along with various other organisms.

The new strain of Coronavirus from Wuhan, Hubei province of China which started infecting humans in December 2019, has been labeled 2019-nCoV and the disease it causes is called COVID -2019.

In 2002, a similar occurrence originated in Guangdong, China, and that mutated Coronavirus strain was called SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). In 2012, another outbreak happened in Middle East, where Camels were supposed to be the intermediate animals. (MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus).


How is it transmitted and what illness does it cause?


The 2019-nCoV is transmitted between humans through air droplet ingestion or inhalation (coughing/sneezing) and by coming in direct contact with an infected person, or surfaces.

The illness it causes is similar to viral cold or flu. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, sneezing, congestion, headache or body pain.

If the virus spreads to the lower respiratory tract and lungs, it can cause Bronchitis and Pneumonia which can manifest as breathlessness in addition to the other mentioned symptoms.


What are the complications, cause of death and who is at higher risk?


This 2019-nCoV is usually not considered deadly in normal adults. The condition resolves with rest, medicines to control symptoms, a healthy soft diet, and maintaining hydration with adequate fluids.

The main pulmonary complications seen are Bronchitis and Pneumonia which can be managed effectively through hospitalization, by ensuring meticulous medical care, cardio-respiratory support, and monitoring.

The overall mortality rate from COVID-2019 is around 2-3% (<1% below 50 years of age) and is seen mostly in older patients (>60 years).

Those at risk include people suffering from underlying medical illnesses like Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancers, and diseases of the Airway/Lung, Heart, Kidney, Liver or Immune system.

Death occurs due to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) which results in respiratory failure due to widespread and massive inflammation of the lung, and sepsis leading to Multi- organ failure (including Heart and Kidney failure).

More than a lakh people have been infected by the 2019-nCoV globally with around 80% cases coming from the country of origin – mainland China. Around 50% of these cases have recovered. There have been >5000 deaths, however >90% people have mild symptoms.

The WHO designated coronavirus 2019-nCoV as a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) and a pandemic indicating that international action will be required to contain this infection.

Research labs and companies in some countries have genetically studied and sequenced the 2019-nCoV and are engaged in research and fast-tracking a potential vaccine.

There is currently no specific treatment available and antibiotics do not work against this virus. Some antiviral drugs, (including particular anti-HIV and anti-Flu drugs) may be of benefit in treating CoV, and are undergoing clinical studies and usage in certain cases.


How can one prevent disease spread and getting infected?




Dr Varsha's blog link


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