What is COVID-19? Is COVID-19 just like the flu? How do I get coronavirus? What are the symptoms of coronavirus? What should I do if I think I have COVID-19? How do I get tested for COVID-19? All these questions and more are answered for you here.
COVID-19 is the abbreviated name of the disease caused by the coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is not the first coronavirus illness that we have seen. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other types of coronaviruses.
Many people have dismissed the severity of COVID-19, saying it’s just like the flu. It is definitely not like the flu. It transmitted faster and has a higher mortality rate than the flu. It even has a higher transmission rate than MERS and SARS, meaning that it spreads faster and will affect more individuals. Also, people are transmitting the virus before they even have symptoms. This makes the likelihood of transmission even greater. The fatality rate is estimated to be around 3%. This means that there is a higher total mortality possible because of the sheer number of individuals who will get COVID-19.
This shows the death rates of both the flu and COVID-19 based on age. From Business Insider "The flu and the new coronavirus have similar symptoms, but the coronavirus is far deadlier — here's how the 2 compare"
SARS-CoV-2 and the viruses that caused MERS and SARS can be traced to originating in bats. Specifically, SARS-CoV-2 has been traced to a market in the Wuhan region in China. Once the virus was transmitted to humans it began to spread from human to human contact.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Other symptoms common with COVID-19 include:
Some emergency warning signs of COVID-19:
*The incubation period for the virus is 2-14 days after exposure. This means that an exposed person can be asymptomatic for 2 weeks while still being contagious.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can be easily confused with influenza, the common cold, or even seasonal allergies. Below you will find a chart to compare these illnesses.
The virus is spread from person to person. This can occur through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These respiratory droplets can travel up to 6 feet. The respiratory droplets can then land on nearby individuals and be inhaled into the lungs. Transmission may also be possible by a person touching the surface or an object that the virus has landed on and then touching their own mucosa membranes (eyes, mouth, nose).
Yes, it appears that COVID-19 is spreading very easily. It can spread even when a person does not yet have symptoms.
COVID-19 can be contracted by anyone. Most young and healthy individuals have mild symptoms. Our concern is with the illness affecting older populations and those with co-morbidities. This includes individuals with diabetes, hypertension, lung diseases, and other cardio-metabolic diseases.
COVID-19 infects the deep lobes of the lungs. The infection causes severe pneumonia that does not respond to antibiotics. The infection can then result in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Ultimately, the complications from the COVID-19 associated pneumonia and ARDS causes death.
Let me start with what you should NOT do. Please do not just walk into a clinic or an emergency department (ED). This increases everyone’s risk of spreading COVID-19. You may not have the illness and now that you are in the ED, you may be exposed. Or if you have the illness, you have the potential to expose many people.
What you should do: You can CALL your local emergency department and get instructions on what you should do. Each ED will have a procedure to follow concerning testing and treatment of likely cases of COVID-19. We still only have a small supply of testing kits. These are being reserved for severe cases at this time. As we start to have more access to testing kits, many locations are creating drive-through test facilities.
If you are a healthy individual and you contract COVID-19, you will most likely recover without seeking emergency medical care. In these cases, you should STAY HOME! Just like you would if you had the flu. Make sure you stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy food options. You may have the option of consulting with your primary care physician via virtual consult. This is the best option as it minimizes the risk of transmission.
If you start to experience shortness of breath or if your symptoms worsen, again call the ED and ask how you should proceed. If you are truly having emergent symptoms, call 9-1-1.