This coronavirus causing COVID-19 is indeed a tough bug. But we can be tougher and show this microscopic bug that we can never allow it to take our health or life.
Although COVID-19 has already reached pandemic proportions, we can still flatten the slope of its progression and reduce the number of people being severely afflicted with it. It’s to be emphasized again that catching the bug, or being confirmed to be positive for COVID-19, is not a death sentence.
Eight out of 10 COVID-positive patients have mild symptoms which are self-limiting, just like they caught the ordinary cold or flu virus. In a few days to a week at most, they’re back to normal. Two out of 10 will have more severe presentations that will need hospitalization, and three to four out of a hundred are critical and might die.
If, let’s say by end of the week, we have 100 confirmed COVID-positive individuals in our country, that represents the 20 percent with relatively more serious clinical presentation. Since these confirmed cases are already diagnosed and confined, it’s easy to limit risk of infection coming from them.
Who to watch out for
However, with a hundred confirmed cases, there could be around 400 unconfirmed COVID-19-positive individuals who are out there who think they’re just “feeling a bit under the weather.” These are the people we must watch out for, and this could be a major factor for uncontrolled spread of the virus.
Based on the firsthand experience of doctors who attended to COVID-19 patients in California, as shared by Dr. Martha Blum, an infectious disease specialist in the Monterey area, many of the patients they admitted to their respective hospitals had atypical or very subtle symptoms the first few days before they developed fever, colds, cough, sore throat and diarrhea.Most of them had a one-week prodrome of muscle pains, malaise, a vague sense of feeling unwell, or just feeling a bit under the weather. They’re not overtly sick yet, but they already have the COVID-19 virus in their body, and they could potentially infect others at this stage of the disease.
So if one feels that he or she is not his or her usual self but can’t really find anything identifiable—no fever, headache, colds, cough, etc.—it’s best to self-quarantine already and observe for a day or two. Check one’s temperature at least twice daily. Wear a face mask even in the house, to protect other family members.
If it’s COVID-19, the symptoms are likely to progress with a rise in temperature to more than 37.5 C degrees centigrade. If it’s just fatigue, with enough rest, one should be back to his/her normal self.Early stage
In the California experience, the nonspecific symptoms were usually followed in a few days with cough, low-grade fever, sore throat, gradually deteriorating to more severe symptoms like difficulty of breathing in the second week of illness. They noted an average of eight days to the development of difficulty of breathing, and an average of nine days to the onset of pneumonia/pneumonitis.
The chest X-ray may be normal in the early stage, but will soon show the typical “ground glass” appearance.
A colleague gave this advice in our chat group, that we can detect COVID-19 patients in the early stage even if the chest X-ray is not that remarkable yet, by asking them to hold their breath after a deep inhalation. If they could hold their breath for 10 seconds or longer, chances are they don’t have the pulmonary complications that characterize the lung complications of COVID-19.
If the patient had no previous lung problem, failing this test may make one suspect a possible COVID-19 infection if other symptoms are also present. This by no means is pathognomonic of COVID-19, but it might be worth trying when testing some patients suspected to have the disease.
So, we can prevent a lot of COVID-19 infection if those who are just feeling the prodrome will isolate themselves and refrain from interaction even with family members. Social distancing must be practiced strictly. It has been shown to be one of the best doable interventions in preventing this pandemic from getting worse.
Let’s cancel all parties, unnecessary gatherings, conferences. As much as possible, we should maintain a 1-meter distance from everyone we interact with. Instead of the handshakes, friendly hugs or beso-beso, let’s have alternative and sometimes more fun ways of greeting each other.
Everyone must remember how sneaky the COVID-19 virus can be. It is not like influenza, which is also a viral infection, but with a classically sudden onset—high-grade fever, headache, muscle pains, colds and cough. In some COVID-19 patients, fever is not a very prominent symptom, at most only a slight feverish feeling with temperature not rising above 38 degrees Centigrade in the California experience.
In another report, the American College of Cardiology shared that based on current clinical experiences, one out of six COVID-19 patients (16.7 percent) developed arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat that may eventually lead to a cardiac arrest, and 7.2 percent had an acute cardiac injury simulating a heart attack.
Some may also present with weakening of the heart muscles (cardiomyopathy) and heart failure, myocarditis (heart muscle swelling or inflammation) and sudden cardiac arrest. Patients with diabetes and high blood pressure are at a much higher risk of cardiovascular complications than those without these conditions.
Bill Gates seemed to have seen this pandemic coming in his chilling warning two years ago, urging all governments to be prepared for a pandemic, either naturally caused or manmade, as a form of biological warfare. No one seemed to have listened to him intently then, perhaps believing that most countries are adequately prepared to confront any outbreak. Lessons are always learned the hard way. INQ