Demystifying COVID-19

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Salient Points 

This article focuses on the following :

  • About the coronavirus
  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • Comparison of COVID-19 with the seasonal flu
  • Precautionary steps to be taken such as social distancing, washing hands, self quarantine
  • Myths about facemasks, proper way to wear it
  • Considerations to be made by companies for their employees
  • Indications to seek medical help

Detailed Summary 

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. They come under the family of respiratory viruses.

COVID-19 : COrona VIrus Disease – 2019

The virus mutates quickly and acquires new qualities. They have been circulating in humans for many decades. They cause a range of diseases.

Symptoms of COVID-19: 

Day 1-3: Fever, mild sore throat

Day 4 : Sore throat, hoarse voice, increase in body temperature, anorexia, headache, diarrhoea

Day 5 : fatigue, muscle pain, dry cough

Day 6 : mild fever about 37C,productive cough, difficulty in breathing, diarrhoea or vomiting

Day 7 : high fever (37-38C ), cough with more sputum, body ache, vomiting and diarrhoea

Day 8-9 : symptoms get worse, messy fever, difficulty in breathing, cough gets worse.

At this time it is indicated to get imaging and tests to confirm COVID-19 infection

Early symptoms:

  • Fever more than 38C.
  • Respiratory symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, weakness, malaise, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, headache.

Advanced symptoms:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis  

According to a graph by the CDC the case fatality rate is 0.7-3.4%.The  majority of infections are mild(80.9%), severe (13.8%) and critical (4.7%).

According to sources from Johns Hopkins University, the proportion of people who recovered out of the total confirmed cases worldwide are 56.6%, 40% are currently ill and 3.5% cases were fatal.

Comparison of COVID-19 with Seasonal flu based on case fatality rates: 

All ages : 12-24 times higher than flu

0-19 yrs: 14-15 times higher than flu

20-49 yrs: 6-16 times higher than flu

50-59 yrs: 9-21 times higher than flu

More than 60 yrs: 4-7 times higher than flu

Precautions to be taken:

  • To follow the culture of ‘Namaste’
  • Wash hands frequently. Use of hand sanitiser that contains at least 70% alcohol.
  • If hands are dirty or soiled, do not use alcohol based hand sanitizer, but wash hands preferably with soap and water.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
  • Wear a mask in case of respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose.
  • Maintain safe food practices, i.e eat well-cooked food which has been prepared hygienically.
  • Traveling to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered should be avoided.
  • Social distancing should be practiced. i.e: to maintain two arms length and to maintain a distance of 6 feet, minimum of 3 feet from a person who is sneezing or coughing.
  • Frequently touched items and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected with a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands should be avoided.
  • Follow the cough etiquette, ie; to cover the mouth when you sneeze or cough with a tissue. If handkerchief or tissue paper is not available cough into the flexed elbow.
  • Dispose off tissue immediately after use and wash hands.
  • Self quarantine yourself for at least 14 days if there is any history of travel to the affected area or in case of contact with someone who has travelled abroad in that time.
  • Stay informed and do not panic. Get information from approved sources – the WHO, CDC or India government health authorities e.g. Dept of HFW


  • They are designed to prevent the surgeon from transmitting infection to the patient.
  • Three-ply surgical masks are enough for this purpose.
  • N-95 masks are needed only by doctors performing procedures that cause the respiratory secretions to get aerosolized.
  • Not to use up masks unnecessarily. 

Indications to use medical masks

  • A person who develops cough or fever.
  • While visiting a healthcare facility.
  • While taking care of an ill person.
  • Close family contacts of such suspect/confirmed cases undergoing home care should also use a triple layer medical mask.

Procedures to follow while wearing a face mask:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Place face mask over nose and mouth. Ensure a tight seal is formed and then secure the elastics or straps.
  • Avoid touching the front of the face mask. If you do, wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Remove the face mask without touching the front of it.
  • Wash hands at least for 20 seconds.

Considerations to be made by companies for their employees: 

  • Work from home should be implemented.
  • Workplace distancing should be done among the employees.
  • Provide hand sanitisers to everyone.
  • Educate employees about the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Work with the government and health authorities

Indications to seek medical help

  • In case of fever, troublesome cough and shortness of breath, only then seek medical help.
  • In case of cold or fever alone, stay at home, use a mask and avoid close contact with other people.
  • Medical help in Bangalore – RGICD.
  • BMCRI also has testing facilities.

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