COVID-19

COVID-19, a.k.a. Coronavirus, is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.

Signs / Symptoms

What's common signs of COVID-19?

Most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste or smell.

 

Less common symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea
  • A rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Muscle or joint pain

On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.

Departments & Emergency

You should call your healthcare provider,COVID-19 hotline for instructions or go to COVID-19 specific hospital if there are any in your country, when you have:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever (>38°C)
  • Chest pain

Diagnosis

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the most commonly used molecular test. Samples are collected from the nose and/or throat with a swab. Molecular tests detect viruses in the sample by amplifying viral genetic material to detectable levels.

 

Rapid antigen tests (sometimes known as a rapid diagnostic test – RDT) detect viral proteins (known as antigens). Samples are collected from the nose and/or throat with a swab. These tests are cheaper than PCR and will offer results more quickly, although they are generally less accurate. These tests perform best when there is more virus circulating in the community and when sampled from an individual during the time they are most infectious.

 

Antibody tests can tell us whether someone has had an infection in the past, even if they have not had symptoms. Also known as serological tests and usually done on a blood sample, these tests detect antibodies produced in response to an infection. In most people, antibodies start to develop after days to weeks and can indicate if a person has had past infection. Antibody tests cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19 in the early stages of infection or disease but can indicate whether or not someone has had the disease in the past.

Treatment

Optimal supportive care includes oxygen for severely ill patients and those who are at risk for severe disease and more advanced respiratory support such as ventilation for patients who are critically ill.

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that can help reduce the length of time on a ventilator and save lives of patients with severe and critical illness. 

Prevention

  1. Get vaccinated when a vaccine is available to you.

There are 3 different types of vaccines: 

Pfizer-BioNTech (mRNA): 2 doses 3 weeks apart. 5+ years old.

Moderna (mRNA): 2 doses 4 weeks apart. 18+ years old.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (viral vector): 1 dose. 18+ years old.

  1. Stay at least 1 meter apart from others, even if they don’t appear to be sick.
  2. Wear a properly fitted mask when physical distancing is not possible or when in poorly ventilated settings.
  3. Choose open, well-ventilated spaces over closed ones. Open a window indoors.
  4. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  6. If you feel unwell, stay home and self-isolate until you recover.

FAQ

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?

Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

 

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Quarantine is used for anyone who is in contact with someone infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, whether the infected person has symptoms or not. Quarantine means that you remain separated from others because you have been exposed to the virus and you may be infected and can take place in a designated facility or at home. For COVID-19, this means staying in the facility or at home for 14 days.

Isolation is used for people with COVID-19 symptoms or who have tested positive for the virus. Being in isolation means being separated from other people, ideally in a medically facility where you can receive clinical care.  If isolation in a medical facility is not possible and you are not in a high risk group of developing severe disease, isolation can take place at home. If you have symptoms, you should remain in isolation for at least 10 days plus an additional 3 days without symptoms. If you are infected and do not develop symptoms, you should remain in isolation for 10 days from the time you test positive. 

References

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