The world as we know it has changed. It has come to a standstill and none of us knows for how long the situation will last.
The best course of action, then, is to be as armed as possible for traversing these times.
Below is all that you need to know about COVID-19, told through an easy-to-digest Q/A format.
Possibly the most asked question. According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Dry cough
Other symptoms vary by patients. Some of them may have a runny nose, nasal congestion, and aches and pains. They may even contract diarrhea. These are usually mild symptoms that begin gradually. Other symptoms that may ring alarm bells include:
- Bluish lips or face
- Pressure/ persistent pain in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Any other out-of-the-blue symptom that is severe
Some people can become infected but not develop any symptoms or feel unwell. Thus, it is best to take precautionary measures and not expose yourself to unnecessary risk.
About 80% of people recover from COVID-19 without needing any special treatment.
When to wear a mask?
You don’t need to wear a mask all the time! Wear one only if:
- You are caring for a suspected/ confirmed COVID-19 patient
- You are a health worker attending to patients with respiratory symptoms
- You have symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty in breathing)
Whenever you do wear a mask, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Avoid touching the mask when wearing it
- Do not leave the mask hanging from the neck
- The mask should cover the nose, chin, and mouth. Adjust the sides so there are no gaps
- Change the mask after 6 hours or as soon as they become wet
- Never reuse disposable masks
- Dispose off used masks into closed bins after disinfecting them
- The outer surface of the mask might be infected. Do not touch it while removing the mask
- After removing the mask, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
When to get tested for COVID-19?
Any symptomatic person who:
- Are healthcare workers
- Had contact with confirmed cases
- Have a history of international travel
- Are hospitalized patients with Influenza Like Illness (ILI) or Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) or severe pneumonia
High-risk or asymptomatic direct contacts of confirmed cases should get tested between day 5 and day 14 of coming into his/ her contact. High-risk and direct contact includes:
- Those living in the same household as that of a confirmed case
- Healthcare workers who examined a confirmed case without adequate protection as stipulated by WHO guidelines
What to do if you are infected with COVID-19?
- If you display any of the symptoms listed above, then isolate yourself and take precautions. Don’t wait for it to get worse.
- DO NOT arrive at the hospital unannounced. Call your family doctor or the emergency helpline. Hospitals have plans for receiving potential coronavirus patients. You shouldn’t just march in and potentially infect everyone.
- Also, DO NOT rush to the emergency room. It is full of people who are severely affected by coronavirus and overworked doctors and nurses. In the past, a symptom like fever, runny nose, sore throat, or cough would be no reason to go to the ER. The same stands true now. Call the doctor first.
If you are a high-risk patient, then consult with your doctor first (on a call). They should be able to advise you on the specific steps and measures to take that suit your system. High-risk patients include: the elderly, people with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, history of pneumonia, a person who has been recently treated for cancer, someone who has a compromised immune system due to drug or illness therapy.
What steps can the patient take if they are displaying symptoms?
People who are displaying symptoms but haven’t been tested should take precautionary measures.
- Confine yourself to a separate room with no pets
- Use a separate bathroom if possible
- Have family members leave food trays and disinfectants at the door
- If a shared bathroom is being used, sanitize it
- If there are masks at home, both patients and caregivers must wear them when in contact with each other
The family members of the patient should strictly quarantine as well.
What are the signs of improvement?
- No fever for atleast 72 hours/ 3 days without the use of medication that reduces fever
- Other symptoms have gone
- Cough and shortness of breath have improved
- At least 7 days have passed since the patient’s symptoms first arrived
Doctors and dieticians recommend the following food items for building immunity against coronavirus:
- Red bell peppers
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Wash them even if they are visibly clean.
- Cover your nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing
- If you feel unwell or seem to display any of the above symptoms, then see a doctor. Be sure to wear a mask/ cloth when you do this.
- Throw used tissues and masks in the bin after use
- Say no to gatherings of any sort
- In case you display any of the signs or symptoms, please reach out on the central helpline +91-11-23978046
- Spit in public
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Have close contact with anyone when you have cough or fever
- Avoid crowded places
- Avoid touching public/contaminated objects
- No handshakes. Avoid personal contact.
How can you get groceries during the lockdown?
Groceries are still available in all general and department stores. In some states, home delivery of vegetables and groceries is also provided. The only condition to be mindful of is that you can only purchase from the shops near you.
Who are essential workers?
- Medical personnel, officials in healthcare institutions, nurses, paramedical staff
- Public utility officials in the electricity and water departments, banks, LPG, CNG, petrol pumps
- Print, electronic, and online media employees
- Officials working with roadways, river ports, seaports, railways, airports, and vehicles that are used to carry essential goods
What are the essential documents you need to step out?
Due to the lockdown in India, only people who provide essential services and essential goods are allowed to step out. If you are one of these (and we thank you for your work), then you’ll need the following documents:
- ID cards issued by employers
- Endorsed authorized letters. These will be needed by the officials who are in the business of distributing essential commodities under e-commerce, supermarts, hyper marts, and PDS. These will also need to be endorsed by the SDO or local police.
For all these people, the enforcement of Section 144 means that the assembly of 4 or more people is not allowed.
The central helpline number for coronavirus is +91-11-23978046. State-wise numbers can be found here.
What is Arogya Setu app and how can it be helpful?
The Arogya Setu app is the government’s COVID-19 tracker app. It helps the government in tracing contacts plus raises one’s alert level if one was near someone who had been tested positive for COVID-19. The app is a crucial piece in deciding when the nation-wide lockdown would be lifted.
NITI Aayog Chief Executive Amitabh Kant has recommended using the app even after the COVID-19 pandemic to better monitor and control the spread of diseases.
Where to find official information about COVID-19 in India?
The government provides the most updated information on COVID-19 here.