Saturday 14 March 2020

Some advice from an Australian doctor

What are the Corona Viruses?
Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)Novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

Corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is an acute infectious disease causing severe acute respiratory syndrome, pneumonia and kidney failure. The disease has first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, which has spread globally affecting 145 countries in six continents and recently declared as a global pandemic by WHO. The most affected countries are: China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Signs and symptoms: 
Common symptoms of Covid-19 infection include:
Fever, fatigue, dry cough, body aches, shortness of breath, sore throat.
Less common symptoms include: Diarrhoea, dizziness, and headache. In rare cases, affected patients have reported no symptoms.
In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 
One of the problems with the corona virus is that the symptoms can be mild, especially in younger, healthier people who might experience symptoms similar to the common cold or seasonal flu. The disease is most deadly in people over 75 and those who have existing health conditions such as: asthma, chronic lung disease, uncontrolled diabetes, heart failure, or kidney disease; or immunocompromised patients. 
The incubation period is defined as the period between exposure to the infection, and the appearance of the first symptoms. For Covid-19, the incubation period is between 2 to 14 days, averaging approximately 5 days.

The disease can be spread from person to person by large droplets; for example, from sneezing or coughing; hence it is very crucial to keep at least one meter distance from a suspected or confirmed patient. 

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing by sneezing into your inner arm, and not into your hands. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

The Australian Federal Government have issued travel restrictions for travellers returning from high risk countries; China, Iran, South Korea or Italy. They must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date they have left said countries.
All returned travellers who have travelled in or transited through any high risk countries should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If they present with any flu-like symptoms such as feeling unwell with fever, shortness of breath  or dry cough (with or without fever) they should be isolated and treated as highly suspected case of Covid-19. 
The Australian Federal Government has issued a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people as of 
Monday 16th of March 2020.

So far there is no vaccine for Covid-19, or any specific treatments. The recommendation is self- isolation, and treatment of the symptoms: hydration by drinking plenty of oral fluids, taking paracetamol as required; and, if the symptoms progress into pneumonia or any other further complication, possible hospitalisation.