Labiba Anjumi Kabir
The outbreak of Covid-19 originated in Wuhan and has rapidly spread to most parts of the world. It is one of the most serious public health crises to occur in decades. The World Health Organisation has declared it to be a pandemic after the enormous death toll it has attributed to its name.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes Covid-19 and most cases are due to interaction with infected people. A minimum distance of 3 feet must be maintained in order to prevent exposure to this virus. It generally spreads through the air we inhale. When an infected person sneezes, the air molecules are contaminated with the virus, and later inhaled by others. The virus is known to survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and around two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. In this case, the danger is even greater as we run the risk of contaminating ourselves each time we touch a surface. The skin acts like an impenetrable layer to any pathogen and the major entry points are the nose, eyes, and mouth.
The Covid-19 virus is not like a flu even though some of its symptoms are similar. These include fever, fatigue, and a sore throat. The common flu usually takes two days to completely develop its symptoms while Covid-19 takes almost fourteen days to firmly establish its presence. The diseases are interchangeable but the risk of exposure to Covid-19 is much greater than the ordinary flu. One could just be incubating the virus and spreading it unknowingly. At any point, good hygiene and social distancing are highly encouraged.
The general symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum production, shortness of breath, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and nasal congestion. The symptoms of the virus may vary case to case but the most common symptoms developed in China were fever (87.9%), dry cough (67.7%), fatigue (38.1%), and sputum production (33.4%).
Worldwide, over 246,000 individuals are tested positive, with the death toll crossing 10,000. In Bangladesh, the first victim of the virus was a 70-year-old man who caught the virus from his relative returning from Italy.
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, Director, IEDCR, revealed that they have some labs ready for screening of patients, both inside and outside the capital. The government has taken all necessary precautions although many doubt if the country is fully equipped to prevent such an outbreak in the near future. To examine community transmission, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised institutions across the world to test all the cases of typical pneumonia.
The National Influenza Centre at the IEDCR has surveillance centers in nineteen hospitals across the country and the IEDCR chief has claimed that they are testing all typical pneumonia cases. The experts insist that those tests must be done through an active method — a planned and targeted way to select and test the cases.
Many passengers have entered the country from virus-hit regions. Around 400 Bangladeshis had returned from Italy and were allowed to go home on the condition of home-quarantining. Reports showed that many of them were not following the instruction, putting the people of their community at risk of infection.
In this moment of crisis, we need to remember that the virus can affect anyone regardless of their age. For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus is thought to be low. Although older people and people of any age with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease, are at a much greater risk of getting infected with Covid-19.
There are simple things we can do to help keep ourselves clean and the people around us healthy, such as washing our hands for twenty seconds especially after sneezing or coughing, before and after eating, or before cooking; avoiding touching the nose, eyes, or mouth with unwashed hands; staying quarantined when feeling sick; covering coughs or sneezes with tissue paper and throwing it in the trash afterwards; and finally, social distancing. Social distancing is not just about protecting yourself. It’s primarily about protecting other people by slowing the transmission.