This article or blog post contains general health information. Whatever medical information that may be found here is in no way a medical advise and should not be treated as such.
You must not rely on this article for medical advise or use this as an alternative to a licensed physician’s opinion. If you have specific questions about this subject matter, or any other health-related matter, kindly consult a physician.
If you are or think you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Notwithstanding the fact that I am a registered nurse by profession, I am not ashamed to admit that there’s still a lot about the COVID-19 disease that I have to know much about. It is to be noted that this emerging infection is not as simple or as common as the influenza or flu virus, and the fact that it belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as the flu virus doesn’t make its understanding any easier.
Nonetheless, I won’t let this roadblock prevent me from sharing in this post more about the COVID-19 disease. In this time and age, we can always find for credible information on the internet, which will enable us to learn more about COVID-19, what’s causing it, and what signs and symptoms to look for. This way, we can use all available information to arm us with knowledge that will protect both ourselves and our loved ones.
What causes COVID-19?
The dreaded COVID-19, formerly known as “2019 novel coronavirus”, is caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus recently named as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or Sars-CoV-2. To date, there had been more than six 663,000 COVID-19 cases all over the world, more or less one hundred 142,000 recoveries, and more than 30,000 COVID-19-related deaths.
Previously, Wuhan, China was considered the “epicenter” of the Sars-CoV-2 infection in which experts had accounted a total of 81,439 COVID-19 cases, with 3,300 total deaths. Now, the United States of America has surpassed this record, with a total of 123,750 cases and 2,227 deaths. Here in the Philippines (from where I’m from), we have a total of 1,075 COVID-19 cases,
(To browse COVID-19-related statistics per country, visit Worldometer.com)
How does the Sars-CoV-2 virus make you sick?
What makes COVID-19 a lethal disease to humans – particulary on those suffering from pre-existing cardio-respiratory diseases, with low immunity, and other sicknesses (co-morbidities) – is the fact that it wreaks havoc on our lungs, impairing or destroying our capability for normal oxygenation.
To learn more about how the coronavirus makes a person sick, and COVID-19’s disease process, here’s a short yet informative animated video by the Nucleus Medical Media:
How can one get COVID-19?
Primarily, the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes the lethal COVID-19, may be spread through human to human transmission through any of the following means:
- Close human to human contact (known as human to human transmission), when persons are less than 2-meter or 6-feet apart from one another.
- Droplet transmission, which is thru respiratory droplets from an infection person’s nasal discharges; and/or
- Aerosol transmission, which is through aerial droplets that are suspended in the air, particularly in enclosed areas (This new theory, however, is one of the probabilities still being carefully examined by our medical experts.)
Notably, as most of those who had contracted COVID-19 in Wuhan, China were reported to have been exposed to the wet animal markets in their area, experts believe that Sars-CoV-2 is actually a zoonotic virus. This means, transmission can also be made from an animal host to human beings.
Signs and symptoms to watch out for
COVID-19 symptoms may appear within 2-14 days from exposure to an infected person or a contaminated surface. Medical experts urge anyone, who may be experiencing the following symptoms, to seek medical attention immediately and in order to be tested for COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Other symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Diarrhea, abdominal pains, and vomiting (may be present in the early stages of COVID-19 infection); and
- loss of smell and taste, stomach aches, body aches, and nausea, loss of smell and taste, stomach aches, body aches, and nausea, which were all observed in some COVID-19 patients by specialists
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend anyone with the following emergency warning signs to seek medical assistance immediately:
- Persistent chest pain or pressure;
- Newly observed confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face (also known as cyanosis)
However, given the foregoing, one must likewise remember that not all persons infected with Sars-CoV-2 will present such symptoms. These individuals, who are “asymptomatic” may then be carriers of the virus to their families or communities. Thus, it is but more prudent to #stayathome and employ #socialdistancing to prevent contracting or spreading the Sars-CoV-2 to others.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses
COVID-19 signs and symptoms are quite similar to those of other common illnesses and diseases some of us might have experienced, such as common colds, flu, and seasonal/allergic rhinitis. Thus, it is important to somehow know their similarities and differences.
What to do?
Now that we have an idea of how this “unseen” enemy works, we can now take necessary steps to avert the spread of infection. As someone living in a COVID-19-stricken country, let me of impart, through this post, ways which our Department of Health had devised as health protocols during this time of crisis:
#1 Stay at home
The stay-at-home (#stayathome) directive of our government is not an empty order. By staying at home, social distancing is increased, consequently slowing the transmission / infection of Sars-CoV-2. As a result, surge in COVID-19 cases may be prevented; the government and health care system will be saved from having to deal with large numbers of citizens contracting the disease.
As I have mentioned in my previous COVID-19-related post, Philippines’ Luzon island is under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until 14 April 2020. We are not allowed to go out of our homes UNLESS we are going out to buy or fetch our basic necessities. Eventually, what seemed to be an imposed measure among Filipinos had thereafter become an act of willingness on their part. As more COVID-19 cases are being reported everyday, it appears that Filipinos are having greater resolute to end this crisis and flatten the curve of this pandemic.
Nonetheless, if going outside would be unavoidable, make sure to:
a) Bring your own hand sanitizer or alcohol (if any) with you. A
b) Wear your own personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and/or gloves.
c) Avoid touching your face while you’re out and about.
d) Make it a habit to remove your shoes before entering your house, spray it with alcohol (or Lysol), and put it away on a designated area.
e) Wash your hands thoroughly before going inside the house.
f) And finally, take a shower before joining your other family members at home. (In our household, this is the practice that we adhere to since the start of the ECQ period.)
#2 Dispose of any personal protective equipment (such as gloves or mask) or PPE at a separate waste container.
Before having these PPE collected for disposal by your local waste or garbage collectors, make it a point to put them in a sealed bag for 72 hours. After doing this step, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
# 3 Do frequent handwashing.
According to the Philippine Department of Health, handwashing should last for 30 seconds. If you can’t keep track of time, it is always helpful to sing the “Happy Birthday Song” while washing your hands because this song’s duration is equivalent to the prescribed 30-second handwashing.
#4 Practice Social Distancing
As we discussed earlier, social distancing minimizes the chance of Sars-CoV-2 transmission, which consequently decreases your chance of contracting (or spreading) COVID-19.
For social distancing to be done effectively, make sure to allow at least a 2-meter (or 6-feet) distance from any person you encounter outdoors. This is the safe distance where you are most unlikely to catch respiratory droplets from others. But still, don’t rely on social distancing alone and make sure to protect yourself further by having your PPE on.
At this juncture, may those under self-quarantine (those separated from others and whose movements are resitricted in order to observe if they will become sick) be reminded to strictly follow quarantine protocols. Thus, if your department or ministry of health tells you not to go out of your home and/or mingle with people (yes, including your family members and loved ones), DO IT. And do it even if you are a politician or government official under quarantine!
You wouldn’t want to be spreading deadly diseases and be the cause of other people’s misery, would you?
#5 Be in the know
Who says fake news can’t kill you? From my experience here in the Philippines, many Filipinos panicked after believing unverified reports about COVID-19 and rumors about the government’s alleged plan of putting the entire Philippines under total lockdown.
At this day and age, we have google and the internet to look for credible sources of information about COVID-19 and our government’s measure to address this problem. Hence, don’t let rumors and trolls take over your life or give you the heart attack!
I will be updating all the information I included in this post, should there be newer developments on COVID-19. Until then, I pray that everyone be safe and well during this time of outbreak.
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