Hi guy's, my name is Amz Choudhury, and I am a medical doctor working in the UK. Myself and Abdul Rahyead created a Vlog with a summary of what's happening around the coronovirus pandemic. Below is a transcription of that Vlog with some additional references and updated stats. We hope you find it useful.
It is absolutely vital that information is sourced from reliable sources. I was watching television the other day and I noticed that the government has had to actually team up with Facebook and other social media platforms to carry out fact screens themselves. This is vital because the wrong information will cause anxiety and panic to settle into the population which will have dire consequences. Some reliable sources of information include: Public Health England, the NHS and Peer-Reviewed Journals such as the Lancet. The government is providing daily updates on the news. It's important that you guys all tune in to stay informed, as the hashtag that’s flying around goes, we need to ‘stay alert, not anxious’.
In a nutshell the coronavirus is not the first of its kind. We have had other strains of this virus causing outbreaks previously; they include SARS-CoV in 2003, and MERS-CoV in 2012. The difference was that the rate of transmission and spread was a lot slower and not as widespread. Todays’ pandemic is strictly speaking SARS-C-2, (coronavirus two), and COVID-19 simply stands for Coronavirus Disease 19 i.e. 2019 was when it was first detected.
In terms of timeline, on the 31 December 2019, the World Health Organisation, WHO, was informed of a cluster of atypical Pneumonias of an unknown cause detected in Wuhan, China.
On the 12 January 2020, it was announced that a novel coronavirus had been identified from the samples of these atypical cases of pneumonias. The initial viral genetic sequence analysis suggested that this was the cause of the outbreak. The virus today is referred to as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.
As of the 3 April 2020, over 1 million cases have been diagnosed in 181 countries, with over 53,000 fatalities. In the UK as of today (3rd April 2020) there are over 34,000 confirmed cases, and approaching 3000 deaths. Bare in mind the number of cases are confirmed will only include patients that have been tested for the disease and so this is thought to be a gross underestimation of the number of people that have contracted the virus. The UK's approach to testing has been limited compared to the vast testing strategy employed by countries such as South Korea.
Please note these stats only include up to the 3rd April 2020 and since there has been an exponential increase – click here for up to date information from Public Health England; and this link for the number of cases ‘heat map’ from John Hopkins University.
How has this become a pandemic?
A pandemic is a global outbreak of a disease. It happens in this case when a new virus emerges, infects people and transmits sustainably. As a result, the coronavirus is defined as a pandemic because of the sheer transmission rate. It has spread from one person to another, from country to country, in a phenomenal way, as there is little to no pre-existing immunity against this virus and unfortunately it is taking many lives with it. The mortality rate of the coronavirus is though to be between one to three and a half percent. Now whilst this is low, if you consider the rate of infection and the number of people becoming infected, three and a half percent, or even one percent, represents a huge number of people.
How is COVID-19 spreading so fast?
It is thought that the spread of the disease is currently via droplet transmission. So the virus itself comes into direct contact with us, and then makes contact with our respiratory system, mainly via our mouths, our noses and our eyes. Hence the government has really been pushing us to effectively wash our hands. The virus can survive on surfaces, though the length of time which it can do this is still unknown, and can be anywhere from hours to days, but it is through this contact that the virus is spreading like wildfire.
Now it has also been suggested that it’s air transmittable within a distance of a metre of an individual infected with COVID-19 who’s actively producing these droplets, whether it's through coughing and sneezing. And therefore, the government had advised at least a two metre distance from someone who is infected.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Now the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to that of the common cold/ flu. These symptoms include a fever, dry cough, aches and pains, and shortness of breath. It’s been suggested that most patients will actually experience the symptoms at a mild level, but depending on age, other conditions and co-morbidities, this will determine how severely it will affect your lungs and the need for hospital admission. So if you’re young, fit and healthy, the symptoms can be expected to be mild. However, adding age into the mix and other conditions, this virus can severely compromise health. This has also significantly affected patients with chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, cancers and heart conditions, as well as the obese population, who are known to have a restrictive lung defect.
Note, there have been cases of young, fit individuals requiring ITU care. And please understand that being young, fit and healthy does not mean you are invincible to the virus. Just recently, a senior nurse of mine, was taken into ITU because of how severely short of breath she was.
So what happens if you are infected with a coronavirus?
Well as with any other virus, your body’s immune system battles the virus, produces antibodies and overcomes the virus to allow you to recover. Now the problem is that the coronavirus in that time period, your building an immune response, can cause severe organ failure.
If you are admitted to hospital, we ensure patients are adequately hydrated and that we support any failing organs. The lungs are the most severely effected organ, so therapeutic oxygenation is required, this may be simply via nasal cannulae and in severe cases patients are intubated and on a mechanical ventilator to further support the lungs.
What should you do if you have symptoms of COVID-19?
Well your action is dependent on the country that you are in and the guidance that has been provided by your healthcare service and the government. In the United Kingdom, if you are symptomatic, you should dial 111 in which you will be appropriately advised, or go through the NHS website in which you will be triaged and also receive instructions on what to do.
If you are mildly symptomatic, as of today the current advice is that you should isolate for 7 days. Please note that there is emerging evidence from the World Health Organisation that you should isolate for 14 days. If you have no symptoms, but are in a household with someone else that is displaying symptoms, you should isolate for fourteen days. That difference is because most likely you have been exposed to the virus, therefore it may take up to 7 days before you develop the infection clinically, and from there it is expected to then take another 7 days to recover.
Social distancing and does it work?
Social distancing are steps or measures that are taken to reduce social interaction inorder to reduce and limit the rate of transmission of the coronavirus. They include number 1: avoiding contact with someone who is displaying signs and symptoms of COVID-19; 2: avoid non-essential use of public transport; 3: work from home if possible; 4: avoid large and small gatherings in the public space. 5: avoid gatherings with friends and family. 6: use the telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services. Now you need to take more stringent precautions particularly if you’re over seventy, pregnant or live with any underlying conditions.
So where to now, what’s going to happen in the future?
Well as you will be well aware, the government has now implemented measures to socially distance the public. This will crucially limit and slow down the rate of transmission of the coronavirus which will support the healthcare service to keep up and support those who have been severely affected. Vaccines and anti-virals are currently being tested around the world with a lot of optimism and hope. The UK expects to get through this virus and all the evidence points towards the fact that if you remain hygienic and follow all of the self-isolating guidance, you and your loved ones will remain safe. Your only role beyond this is to spread the message and make sure everyone else does the same!
Thanks you for listening and I hope this video made things a little clearer. See you at the next video.
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