Graphic courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration

CORONAVIRUS, specifically COVID-19, is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Here are the symptoms, treatment options and warning from the World Health Organization (WHO):

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?

No. 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. They should only be used as directed by a physician. 

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Attention travellers: Practice usual precautions

While the cause of pneumonia seems to be a novel coronavirus, transmission potential and modes of transmission remain unclear. Therefore, it would be prudent to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while travelling in or from affected areas (currently Wuhan City) by:

• avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;

•frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment;

• avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals;

• travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).

Health practitioners and public health authorities should provide to travellers information to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections, via travel health clinics, travel agencies, conveyance operators and at points of entry.

If a traveller on board of an aircraft/a ship has signs and symptoms indicative of acute respiratory infections, the model of Maritime declaration of health (Annex 8 of IHR) or the health part of the aircraft general declaration (Annex 9 of IHR) can be used to register the health information onboard and submit to POE health authorities when required by a State Party.

A passenger locator form can be used in the event of a sick traveller detected on board a plane. This form is useful for collecting contact information for passengers and can be used for follow-up if necessary. Travellers should also be encouraged to self-report if they feel ill. The cabin crew should follow the operational procedures recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with regard to managing the suspected communicable disease on board an aircraft.

Warning from WHO: 

Criminals are disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information.  If you are contacted by a person or organization that appears to be from WHO, verify their authenticity before responding.

The World Health Organization will:  

• never ask you to log in to view safety information

• never email attachments you didn’t ask for

• never ask you to visit a link outside of www.who.int

• never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel

• never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding through email

• never ask you to donate directly to emergency response plans or funding appeals.

Beware that criminals use email, websites, phone calls, text messages, and even fax messages for their scams.

You can verify if communication is legit by contacting the WHO directly.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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