COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus emerging from Wuhan, China. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 16,558,289 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the globe, with 656,093 of those cases resulting in death. Categorized as a pandemic by the WHO, it efficiently transmits through human-to-human contact and has no widely-available or effective medical countermeasure present to prevent its spread. Spreading rapidly, testing, quarantining, and social-distancing have become critical to mitigating its impact.
What Is COVID-19
COVID-19 is a highly contagious and possibly severe respiratory illness caused by a Coronavirus. Belonging to a family of viruses called the “coronaviridae,” the source of the new coronavirus is believed to from an animal. It spreads through droplets from the nose or mouth of a person with COVID-19 after sneezing, exhaling, or coughing. By breathing in or coming in contact with surfaces contaminated with the droplets, individuals can contract the virus.
Based on the research carried out by WHO, the majority of people (80%) infected by the virus recover. However, COVID-19 can progress into a severe-illness for patients who are old, have compromised immune systems, or have specific medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, hypertension, liver disease, etc.
Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 has affected people across the globe in different ways. Most infected individuals develop mild to moderate symptoms, and eventually recover. In contrast, patients with severe symptoms require immediate medical attention and hospitalization. On an average, it takes a person 5-6 days to show symptoms, after becoming infected. However, some people can take up to 14 days to show any symptoms.
Following are COVID-19 symptoms to keep in mind. Note that the list is not exhaustive.
- Dry cough
- Loss of smell and taste
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Chest pain
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath
Some people also experience a rash on their skin, nausea and vomiting.
Tests to Diagnose COVID-19
There are two types of tests for COVID-19:
- A viral test determines whether the patient currently has an infection.
- An antibody test determines whether an individual might have had a previous infection. An antibody test is not applicable if a patient is currently infected, since it takes 1-3 weeks for the body to produce antibodies after an infection.
Viral Test (PCR): This diagnostic test makes use of a nasal or throat swab, and is called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Being a frontline testing for COVID 19, this test collects sample fluids and cells from your respiratory system to enable the identification of specific genes that cause COVID-19. A positive test indicates confirmation of the disease.
Antibody Test (ELISA): Serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) examines a blood sample to determine whether a person has had SARS-CoV-2 (that causes COVID-19). The main purpose of ELISA is to seek evidence of how the body’s immune system reacts to the virus. However, a positive ELISA must be confirmed by another test – there are diseases that cause ELISA to often be positive (even though the person does not have the disease).