The following is provided as general information only and is not medical advice. Please consult with a physician or medical centre directly.
What Is Covid-19?
It is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2; a new coronavirus discovered in 2019.
How does it Spread?
This infection spreads from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets. These droplets are released into the air when a person talks, sings, coughs, or sneezes. During the first wave, older adults (60 years and above) were more susceptible. In the second wave, caused likely by mutant strains, younger age groups have also been affected. Mutant strains are more contagious or spread faster.
Covid-19 Symptoms to Look for
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
Symptoms can be mild to moderate, severe, or critical.
Common symptoms: fever (with or without chills), body ache, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, headache, a loss of sense of taste or smell, nasal congestion, fatigue, and muscle soreness. A person who is infected may have a few or many of these symptoms.
Less common symptoms: loss of appetite, vomiting, loose stools, abdominal pain, extreme weakness in the body, hearing loss, conjunctivitis, dryness of mouth etc
Asymptomatic: No symptoms yet can carry and spread infection through respiratory droplets.
Ways to Prevent Spread of Covid-19
Avoid the 3 C’s:
- Closed spaces with poor ventilation
- Crowds (more than 2 people)
- Close contact
Follow the 3 W’s:
- Watch your distance (social distancing of at least six feet or 2 arms’ length)
- Wear a double mask: A surgical mask underneath covered with an N95 mask is recommended. The masks should cover the nose and mouth well, without leaving any gaps. Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with your hands.
- Wash your hands: Wash hands with soap and water frequently, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used.
- Clean and sanitise surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches faucets, and so on daily or several times in a day.
- Stay home if you have any symptoms of Covid 19.
Vaccination Is Important
Covid-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and reduce the risk of severe illness.
- Based on the data available, the chances of getting Covid-19 after vaccination are substantially reduced. Even if one does get it, the vaccine will keep you from getting severely ill.
- Getting vaccinated can also help protect the people around you.
- Vaccinations are the best protection against Covid-19 infection.
Early Detection Steps
1. Isolate yourself: If you notice symptoms of Covid 19 such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness, or any of the others, isolate yourself in a separate space in your home or elsewhere. Wear a mask if you must step outside the room.
Isolation is recommended for at least 10 days after onset of symptoms and 3 days after fever stops. Covid test to get a negative report not required thereafter.
2. Get a Covid test done: It is advisable to get a Covid test done if you see Covid-like symptoms. Do not delay.
- Consult a doctor immediately. A prescription is required for a Covid test.
- Get a test done in a hospital or diagnostic centre. Wear double mask, sanitise hands, and maintain social distancing as you step out.
- Or book a home sample collection for a Covid test. This is a safer option. It might take a day or two for you to get your slot. Once the sample is collected, the report is generally sent to your mobile. Several labs are offering this facility.
An RT-PCR Test (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) is recommended as it is the most sensitive test available. A naso-pharyngeal swab (nose and throat) is collected as a sample.
RT PCR Test Results:
- Covid Positive: Isolate and start immediate treatment in consultation with a doctor.
- Covid Negative: When there are no symptoms and test result is negative, that is great!
- False Negative: Sometimes the symptoms persist, and the test result is negative. In this scenario, one must be very cautious and keep monitoring temperature and oxygen levels. In case of emergency, contact hospital immediately.
If One Is Covid Positive and in Home Isolation:
- Consult your doctor and start on the advised medication: Usually for fever and body ache Dolo 650 mg can be taken as per doctor’s advice. It is good to maintain the body temperature below 100°F. In some cases, antibiotics, inhalers, nebulisers, steroids, anticoagulants may also be recommended as per the patient’s need and progress of the condition. Usually, some lab tests are advised by the doctor or a CT scan, only if required. The lab samples can be collected at home whenever possible.
- Thermometer & pulse oximeter: Use them for regular self-monitoring. Update your doctor regularly.
- Rest and nutrition: Get sufficient rest. Maintain a healthy & nutritious diet. Drink water and fresh juice to keep yourself well-hydrated.
- Self-monitoring: Check temperature every few hours with the help of a thermometer. Check oxygen saturation every few hours with the help of a pulse oximeter. If this remains normal, hospitalization is not required. To help with shortness of breath, one can use spirometry, prone position for a not-so-sick patient, deep breathing exercises.
- Seek hospital admission: Use government helpline or directly contact a private hospital to do this if:
- Temperature remains above 100°F despite medication
- Pulse exceeds 100 beats per minute or oxygen saturation (SpO2) falls below 95%,
- Persisting cough and difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath,
- Loss of appetite, confusion, persistent pain, or pressure in the chest etc.
Use the government helpline to book a bed, as per the system in your city. If getting a bed is taking time, get external oxygen support at home or in an interim clinic or a hospital emergency room.