How does the coronavirus spread, and what can you do about it?
April 22, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

How does the coronavirus spread, and what can you do about it?

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COVID-19 has now spread to more than 170 countries and resulted in more than 20,000 deaths. There isn't any doubt that coronavirus is spreading rapidly, but what seems to spread even more rapidly is the fear and misinformation around the topic. According to research performed in China, up to 60% of people felt anxious or scared during the outbreak due to many reasons ranging from loss of a job, fear of death or pain, lack of normalcy in life, and general panic in society. All these emotions are normal, and most people will feel them at some point during this crisis telling yourself this will help you.

If you do happen to experience symptoms of COVID-19, do not worry as Shifa4u has lab testing and packages available that can detect and diagnose coronavirus.

What exactly is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a type of infectious virus that is highly contagious but less fatal. Coronaviruses, a group of viruses, mainly exist in birds and mammals and attack the respiratory system. Human coronaviruses have been known to exist since the 1960s but only recently have large outbreaks of coronavirus taken place, like the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004 and MERS outbreak in 2012.

COVID-19, like all other coronaviruses, is a relatively large crown-shaped virus that causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, coughing, fever, and body aches but, in more severe cases, causes breathing difficulties and organ failure. The significant difference between COVID-19 and SARS/MERS seems to be that COVID-19 can spread much more quickly but has a much lower death rate. Like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 appears to have originated from bats and eventually transferred to humans through an intermediate animal that looks to be pangolin.

How does it spread?

When an infected person sneezes, coughs or even breathes, droplets of coronavirus are released into the air or onto surfaces. Anyone who comes in contact with droplets in the air or touches their face after touching a contaminated surface potentially contracts COVID-19. COVID-19 lasts around 3 to 9 hours in the air and can last for about 9 to 12 days on surfaces or in a room (depending on temperature). However, on most common surfaces, the coronavirus remains for approximately one to four days.

How long does it take for someone to become sick?

On average, it takes 5 to 7 days for an infected person to begin showing symptoms, and by the 14th day (since infection), most patients do show some symptoms. However, research has shown that most people will show mild symptoms (conjunctivitis, slight coughing or fever, headaches), and many might not show any signs at all. Close to 20% of all infected people will show severe symptoms and require hospitalization.

What can you do to stop the spread?

Practice social distancing – keep 2 meters or 6 yards distance with others

Wash hands for 20 seconds frequently

Refrain from touching the face with unwashed hands

Wear a face mask when going out in public

Sneeze or cough into your sleeve/elbow

Self-isolate or quarantine if you or anyone at home shows symptoms

Avoid crowded places and generally try to stay at home

Do not attend any form of gathering (weddings or parties) and if there is one, inform local authorities about it so that they can prevent it

What if you display symptoms?

If you exhibit mild symptoms of COVID-19, then it is recommended that you get preliminary screening or lung tests performed. You can order Imaging Tests of lungs (CT Scan is the most effective test), Sputum Culture, and Fatigue Panel testing (includes Complete Blood Count test) to diagnose or detect COVID-19.

But if you show severe symptoms of coronavirus such as breathing difficulty (shortness of breath without physical movements) or organ pain, please get yourself screened at a local hospital or testing center. 


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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.