What we know so far about COVID-19

By: Supriya Sehgal

We are just beginning to understand COVID-19.  This article highlights some of the newer things we have discovered about the virus.  This data will change as we continue to research COVID-19, but we are starting to gain a preliminary understanding of how the virus works.

There are differences between COVID-19 and the flu.  For example, COVID-19 appears to be three times more infectious than the flu.  It is also more dangerous and is ten times more fatal than the flu. 

Up to 25 percent of people with COVID-19 don’t have but can still transmit disease.  Infected people start shedding virus 48 hours before showing any symptoms. The COVID-19 virus is aerosolized and can stay in the air for hours. It can transmit from person to person from a range of 6 feet, so strict social distancing is really important in preventing the spread of the virus.

Most cases occur 4-5 days after exposure but can be as long as 14-15 days after exposure. Most infected people develop symptoms after five days of exposure, and almost all people will develop symptoms 11 days after exposure.

The disease affects everybody, not just the elderly.  In a series from LA county, 40% of people affected were in the 41-65-year age group, 39% in the 18-40-year age group, and 19 % were elderly.  There are cases of children getting sick from the virus too. Pregnant women are also at risk, and infection can have bad outcomes for the baby.  All members of society are affected, not just the elderly. 

COVID-19 can also cause a range of symptoms.

Patients can get a sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath.  Others may or may not develop a fever.  You do not need to have a fever to develop COVID-19.  Patients may develop muscle aches and pains. Some patients develop abdominal pain and diarrhea.  COVID-19 infection may also cause a loss of smell and possible changes in loss of taste.

The current test does not pick up COVID-19 in all cases; 25 percent of cases are missed by the test.  Because the test misses’ cases, this can contribute to the spread of the disease as people may not be aware that they are infected.

Everyone in the community has a role to play in preventing the spread of the disease.

Strict social distancing is key. Even if a handful of people in the community do not practice social distancing, the disease can spread through the city.  For example, in South Korea, one infected person (patient 31) was the source of infection for 5,000 people in the country.  That is why it is important for all people to practice strict social distancing at all times.  Researchers all over the world are working on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.  We must all work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until then.

Reach out to your local health care workers and start drives to get/buy personal protective equipment.  Reducing the risk of infections for doctors/nurses/technicians will help prevent the spread of the virus in the community and keep them healthy to help you. Below are some links to help get personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in Brampton.

https://oslerfoundation.akaraisin.com/ui/PPEDrive/volunteer/start

https://oslerfoundation.akaraisin.com/ui/personalfundraising/participant/5707655?Lang=en-CA

References:

https://www.livescience.com/new-coronavirus-compare-with-flu.html

http://keck.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Evidence-Based-COVID_3-27.pdf

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-have-dropped-sharply-south-korea-whats-secret-its-success#

About the Author.

Supriya Sehgal grew up in Brampton Ontario and went to Queen’s Medical School.  She completed her family practice residency at The University of Toronto, her internal medicine residency at UT Southwestern in Dallas Texas and her fellowship in rheumatology at The University of Pennsylvania.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
editor@asiametro.ca

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