Everyone is looking for as much information as possible during the current global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. It is imperative to have adequate knowledge to increase your chances of staying safe during this global pandemic. Unfortunately, since everyone’s looking for this information, much misinformation is also being dispersed. Some of this misinformation appears in the media, while the majority of falsehoods get spread through online platforms. Therefore, if you don’t have a reliable source of information, your pursuit of knowledge could easily wind up placing you at a disadvantage. The misinformation could lead to you compromising on your health, as well as your loved ones’ wellbeing.
There are countless questions out there from the public. As much as we would like to have all the answers, each day comes with its series of new problems. But to ensure you have up to date information on the COVID-19 virus, we’ve compiled a few of the issues that people frequently ask.
What Is COVID-19?
The virus that caused the pandemic currently being experienced, Coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. In general, Coronaviruses are viruses you commonly come across in humans as well as animal species like camels, bats, cats, and cattle. However, in sporadic cases, the virus has been seen spreading from animals to humans. The few times this occurred, except for the current pandemic, was with the SARS and MERS virus outbreaks.
COVID-19 has a few similarities to the influenza virus. But as much as there are people who show symptoms commonly associated with the COVID-19, research by the WHO has shown that up to 80% of individuals found to have the virus are either asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any known symptoms, or suffer mild symptoms. Of the remaining percentage, 15% of confirmed cases experience extreme symptoms from the infection, requiring oxygen in most cases, while the remaining 5% fall under the critical care category. These are the individuals that require ventilators.
How Does The Virus Spread?
Continuous research on the number of confirmed cases within a given timeframe, COVID-19, has shown that it has the potential to spread rapidly. Once the virus has a host, that individual can quickly spread it to others around them. Whenever the person coughs or sneezes, the particles expelled attach themselves to other people surrounding them. These particles can reach a person as far as six feet away. If these particles land in the unaffected person's mouth or nose, they will then travel to their respiratory tract. Therefore, this goes to show that the virus spreads from person to person. People infected pose a higher risk of affecting others when they become symptomatic. That refers to when infected individuals suffer the most from their symptoms. As a result, the CDC advises people to self-quarantine, or get quarantined at a health facility when they reach this phase.
What Are The Symptoms?
Based on the current number of cases, most people start to show symptoms as early as two days after infection. However, some people start showing signs as much as 14 days after they got exposed. For asymptomatic individuals, however, no symptoms may occur even though they are infected with the COVID-19 virus. For symptomatic people, some of the more common symptoms experienced include:
- Dry hacking cough
- Difficulty breathing
The above-listed symptoms affect the majority of COVID-19 cases. However, some other less common symptoms include:
- Unnatural fatigue
- Body pains
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Sore throat
- Runny Nose
- Watery eyes
- Discoloration of the toes or fingers
- Loss of smell or taste
However, this is not an exhaustive list of symptoms. More infected people are stating new symptoms they experienced as the virus infection rate progresses. In case you experience symptoms not listed here, you should get in touch with a healthcare provider. They'll inform you whether your symptoms are worth worrying over.
Who Should Get Tested?
Many people wonder when it's the opportune time to get tested. That's a huge concern, especially in areas where testing kits are still limited in number. In general, you should get tested if:
- You are showing some of the listed symptoms.
- You live or work in an area that has a high concentration of infected people.
- You have been around someone who exhibited symptoms of the virus.
- You have been around people who have tested positive for the virus.
- You have gotten exposed to bodily fluids from a person showing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
- You have gotten exposed to bodily fluids from someone who is confirmed to be infected.
If any of the above apply to you, then getting tested is highly advisable.
Who Is At Risk
At the beginning of the outbreak, many doctors believed that only the elderly could catch the virus. However, with each new case, it's becoming more apparent that anyone can contract COVID-19. It has seen that the elderly, as well as people with severe underlying conditions, are at a higher risk of getting infected. These include people with illnesses such as:
- Chronic lung diseases or asthma
- Chronic kidney diseases
- Those with compromised immunities, such as organ donor recipients or those under medication such as corticosteroids
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Extreme obesity
As it currently stands, there is nobody who isn't susceptible to catching the virus. You should always remember that COVID-19 is highly contagious, and anyone can contract it.
Why Get Tested If I Can't Get Medical Treatment?
Getting tested is important because knowledge is power. Knowing your status allows you to do your part to help avoid further spreading the virus. Additionally, you will also be keener on taking measures such as self-quarantining yourself. It's a well-known fact that there is currently no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. As such, even those infected individuals getting quarantined at hospitals only get assistance from healthcare professionals to manage their symptoms. If your case isn't severe, then you can handle the signs in your home.
What Does This Test Measure
There are a variety of tests approved by the FDA for use during this pandemic. However, they all fall into one of two categories:
- Viral tests
- Antibody tests
Viral tests check if you're infected with COVID-19. Samples for the analysis are collected from the inside of your nose using a swab. If you're at a facility using point-of-care tests, you will receive your results within the hour. For tests that require analysis in a laboratory, you will receive your results within a maximum of two days.
Antibody test checks whether you have been infected before with the COVID-19 virus. For this, your blood gets tested for the presence of antibodies. These are a type of protein that helps your body fight off any infections. You should note that the results from someone currently infected with the virus will not have any antibodies. However, this isn't definitive proof that the person is infected with COVID-19.
How Many Tests Can I Buy?
Due to the constraints on supplies, and the rapid infection rate, the number of tests one can buy has to be limited. As of now, only one test can be purchased per customer. However, more testing kits are being created to ensure there are enough for mass testing whenever necessary.
How To Do The Test At Home?
As with all medical kits, a set of instructions comes with it. That's to ensure you use it appropriately. The same goes for COVID-19 testing kits. You can purchase either the FDA approved nasal test kit, or the saliva test kit. They both come with instructions to walk you through the procedure. The nasal test kit, also called the RT-PCR Test kit, is a simple process that won't take five minutes to complete correctly. This viral test will require you to collect two samples. There are two nasopharyngeal swabs included in the kit for this purpose. The saliva test uses the Spectrum Solutions LLC SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Device to collect a saliva sample. Both these tests also come with a prepaid Fed-Ex mailer. It helps to get your analysis to a lab as quickly as possible once you've obtained the samples. You'll be able to get your results digitally after 72 hours of sending the samples to the lab.
How Do I Know If It's Just A Flu/Cold?
Due to the nature of the symptoms, it's uncertain to self-diagnose which illness one may have. Therefore, the only way to be 100% sure of the disease you're suffering from is to get tested.