Now is the time to fight against the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has gripped the entire world. We should fight it together, beyond all our boundaries, prejudices and obstacles, to stop its spread and ultimately eradicate it. This novel viral disease is caused by a new strain of Beta Coronavirus causing infection in our respiratory passage like SARS (2002) & MERS (2012). It spreads mostly through droplets or aerosols and indirectly through hands contaminated by viral particles.
After infection, the person is manifested with symptoms like fever, cough, body ache, the malaise in mild cases (about 85%). In severe cases (about 10-15%) it may manifest itself as breathing problems with low oxygen in the body, low blood pressure and rare situations, multi-organ failure with death (about 1-3%). In these severe cases, the patient needs admission in critical care units where treatment with oxygen, ventilator and other supportive life-saving measures are taken. Death rate increases amongst older age groups, patients with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases or any type of cancer. We need to prevent this disease as no definite antiviral medicines are available to date.
For prevention at an individual level we should undertake the following:
- Social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters during interaction
- Avoid touching face, mouth, nose or eyes unnecessarily & only after proper handwashing
- Cover your mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing
- Use mask properly if possible – must if you have symptoms of cough/sneezing
- Please isolate yourself if you have symptoms like fever, cough or breathing problems and seek medical help at the earliest to avoid spreading the infection to others
- Test yourself for COVID-19 if your doctor suggests, without delay
- Practice healthy habits like a nutritious diet and exercise to boost your confidence and immunity.
At the social level, please show your solidarity by exercising and spreading Govt. regulated measures like:
- Encouraging the public to remain at home until lockdown ends
- Avoid social gatherings
- Cover your mouth during coughing/sneezing to stop its spread in the society
- Please follow self-quarantine measures for a minimum of 14 days if you are directed to do so
- Please take precautions than indulging in a panic avoid hoarding of food and daily necessities, as it will create an artificial crisis
- Help others during this period of crisis
- Show your solidarity to COVID-19 positive patients and their families as tomorrow you may be in the same boat.
Please co-operate with the administration, medical system, policymakers and fulfill your social responsibilities. If we work together we may successfully bring down the numbers We will just have to wait and see.
Dr. Sauren Panja, Senior Consultant, Head of Department – Anaesthesia & Critical Care, Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Kolkata