The Coronavirus Pandemic: What you need to know
by Dr. Ngozi Onuoha, MD, MBA-HCM
In December 2019 in the city of Wuhan in China, emerged a new virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 responsible for the disease now known as Novel Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19). It is believed that the virus found in snakes and bats infected humans, who then spread the virus to one another (human-to-human transmission). In just a matter of three months, the virus spread to over a hundred countries with hundreds of thousands of people infected leading to thousands of deaths. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Information is still emerging, but this is what we know thus far: In addition to droplet spread from an uncovered sneeze or cough, the virus also spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces. It can survive on surfaces such as cardboard for 24 hours, and stainless steel and plastic for two to three days. A person infected with COVID-19 virus presents with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. The disease varies in severity from a mild illness that resolves on its own, to a more serious critical respiratory distress that requires ventilator support in an intensive care unit. The incubation period, which is the time from exposure to the manifestation of symptoms is 2 to 14 days, which is the reason those exposed are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Testing is by a throat and nose swab which is then sent to the lab.
In March 2020, the United States’ government declared a public health emergency due to the number of people infected by the new coronavirus. This was due to the growing concern that there would be more affected people than the health system could cope with. Pennsylvania state officials set up measures to restrict non-essential businesses and movement. Other states have also implemented various social distancing strategies to limit person-to-person spread. People were advised to stock up for “stay at home” periods, while older adults were advised to stay away from the stores to avoid exposure to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended against large group gatherings. The race for the cure of the new coronavirus began with many pharmaceutical companies working on treatments as well as vaccines. The vaccine trial started and the first trial volunteer received the vaccine in March 2020. At the time of this writeup, there is no cure for COVID-19. Many combinations of medications have been tried, but none have been shown to be effective. Prevention has been the main crux of tackling this virus. People are advised to: • Wash hands for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. • Wipe down surfaces with the Environmental Protection Agency approved cleaning agents. • Cough or sneeze into flexed elbow or tissue and discard. • Wear surgical masks when taking care of sick people. The disruptive impact of coronavirus has been felt globally. Daily activities, including transportation, education, and grocery shopping were disrupted. Stores experienced shortages of essential food and personal hygiene items. The impact of the COVID-19 will be seen for years to come. Currently, the situation with COVID-19 is fluid and changing by the hour. Your premier resource for information includes the CDC website as well as your local public health department.
Resources: Pennsylvania Dept of Health Call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) NJ Dept of Health NJ COVID-19 & Poison Center Public Hotline at 1-800-962-1253 or 1-800-222-1222 Delaware Dept of Health COVID-19 hotline for residents at 1-866-408-1899
Dr. Ngozi Onuoha is a Primary Care Physician, who is Board Certified in Internal medicine and Geriatric Medicine. She received her medical training in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and The United States of America. Dr. Onuoha has completed a Masters in Business Administration in Healthcare Management. In addition to her work as a clinician, Dr. Onuoha is passionate about helping people optimize their health goals through her writings.