COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 Coronavirus

An infection that shook the world and turned into an epidemic, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is caused by the virus called as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).

Lot of people with COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms recover in a few days, but the infection may turn serious, and the resulting illness can lead to death in some people. Older adults, age, and existing medical conditions increase the risk for serious illness.

In India alone, last reported cases since July 2022 have been 43,710,027 infections and 525,604 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the country since the pandemic began.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure(exposure to symptom appearance time is called incubation period). A person may still spread the disease during this time. The common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Early symptoms: Loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle pain (aching pain in muscles)
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rash

This list isn’t complete as more discoveries are continuously made with COVID-19.

The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. The virus can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, heart problems, liver problems, septic shock, and death. Many COVID-19 complications are a result of a condition known as cytokine release syndrome or a cytokine storm. Cytokine storm is when the infection in a person’s body triggers the immune system to flood the blood with a substance called cytokines that destroys the tissue and damages organs. Lung transplants were required in many cases.

Children have a mild form of the disease with similar symptoms as adults. Some children experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a syndrome that can affect some organs and tissues, several weeks after having COVID-19. Rarely, some adults experience the syndrome too.

Contact the doctor immediately if you have emergency COVID-19 symptoms. These are:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Constant chest pain or pressure.
  • Trouble staying awake.
  • Confusion.
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds — depending on skin color.

What are the causes and risk factors of getting infected with COVID-19?

The virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This disease is highly contagious and mainly from in close contact with each other.

  • The virus spreads by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings, or talks. When inhaled, these droplets land in the mouth, nose or eyes of a person nearby.
  • The virus also spreads via very small droplets or aerosols that can stay in the air for several minutes or hours— called airborne transmission.
  • The virus also spreads via touching the surface with the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.
  • The COVID-19 virus spreads from an infected person without symptoms too. And also from a person who is in incubation period.
  • It’s possible to get COVID-19 more than once.

Risk factors of contacting COVID-19:

There is a higher chance of contacting serious illness in case of the following health conditions:

  • Weakened immune system (due to an organ transplant)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Obesity
  • Serious heart conditions such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Conditions that could lead to severe COVID-19 illness include:

  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Diseases affecting blood vessels and blood flow to your brain
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • High blood pressure
  • A weakened immune system because of a blood or bone marrow transplant, HIV, or medications like corticosteroids
  • Dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Damaged or scarred lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

  • A swab test is the most common testing method that looks for signs of the virus in the upper respiratory tract. A person puts a cotton stick (swab) up a person’s nose for a sample and also in the throat. This sample goes to the lab for testing or at some places, rapid tests may also provide results in as quickly as 15 minutes.
  • There is also an antibody test that indicates if a person has ever been exposed to the virus earlier. This may happen even in case of absence of symptoms.
  • At-home tests for COVID-19 are available at many pharmacies. These may not be as reliable but are a fast and easy way to test a person for suspected COVID-19 or at least five days after exposure to the virus causing COVID-19.

What are the treatment options in COVID-19?

Currently there is no cure as such for COVID-19. People with mild cases of COVID-19 are advised to take rest, fluids, and gain fever control. The doctor may advice people to take medicines for sore throat, body aches, and fever.

For severe cases or for people who are highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, doctors prescribe antivirals like:

  • nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir
  • sotrovimab
  • molnupiravir
  • remdesivir

Some treatments are in the form of capsules or tablets while others are given through a drip in your arm (infusion), usually in a hospitals or local health centre.

Things to take care while being unwell:

  • The doctor may ask a person to monitor the symptoms and avoid spreading the illness to others.
  • A person might be asked to isolate themselves as much as possible from family and pets
  • Wearing a mask when you’re around people and pets is mandatory, and also using a separate bedroom and bathroom.
  • Improving airflow in the home by opening windows and using air filters when possible.

Very serious illness may need treatment in the hospital.

How can COVID-19 be prevented?

India has administered at least 1,991,240,408 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 72.9% of the country’s population.

India has three vaccines for use to prevent COVID-19:

  • Covishield [ChAdOx1 nCoV-19; Oxford–AstraZeneca; manufactured by Serum Institute of India],
  • Covaxin [BBV152; Bharat Biotech], and
  • Sputnik V [Gam-COVID-Vac; Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology])

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine also is important because the flu and COVID-19 may be spreading at the same time and cause similar symptoms. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine is the best way to protect against both.

The time gap between the two doses of Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V is 4-6 weeks, 12-16 weeks, 21 days respectively.

Other ways to prevent contact the virus:

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following these precautions:

  • Getting vaccinated: COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk COVID-19 infection and its spread.
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
  • Keeping safe distance between each other in indoor public spaces.
  • Avoiding crowds and indoor places that have poor airflow, also called ventilation.
  • Proper handwashing techniques: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wearing a face mask: It is recommended to wear it on a regular basis, the most protective mask possible, that fits well and is comfortable.
  • Improving indoor airflow: Open windows and use the fans to direct air out of windows. In case that is not possible, use air filters, exhausts in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing with an elbow or tissue and simultaneously throw away the used tissue. Wash your hands right away.
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth as infection spreads via these parts of the body
  • In case a person is unwell, they should isolate and avoid sharing dishes, glasses, towels, bedding to avoid spread of infection.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces: For example, clean doorknobs, light switches, electronics, and counters regularly.
  • Staying home from work, school and public areas: Isolate if a person is sick and until you are out of the transmission radar. Avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-hailing services if you’re sick.
  • Checking with the doctor in persons with chronic medical condition: Consult a doctor about methods of prevention to avoid getting COVID-19 or it’s serious form.

Does a face mask protect from infection?

Along with vaccines and social distancing efforts, masks are an added layer of protection for everyone. The different types of masks are:

Cloth masks: Washable and reusable with multiple layers of breathable fabric and a snug fit over the nose and mouth.

Disposable masks: Also called surgical masks, these are widely available and the best ones are the ones that have several layers of non-woven material and that fits properly over the nose and mouth and has a nose wire. There shouldn’t be a gap around the sides of the face or nose.

N95 respirator masks: These fit tightly around your face and filter out 95% or more of the smallest particles in the air. Use a basic, disposable N95 respirator with a high quality and labelled “NIOSH Approved”.

Some people shouldn’t wear masks:

  • Kids under 2 years old
  • Someone with a disability who can’t wear a mask or can’t safely wear one to the disability
  • A person who has a job in which wearing a mask would create a risk to co-workers’ health or safety as determined by the workplace risk assessment


  1. COVID-19 Tracker. Reuters. February 2024.
  2. Coronavirus and COVID-19: What You Should Know. WebMD. February 2024.
  3. COVID-19 symptoms and what to do. NHS UK. February 2024.
  4. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Mayo Clinic. February 2024.

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