India should create rapid response infrastructure for handling global epidemics

Early diagnosis is crucial to avoid any complication, says Dr Mahesh Kumar

Mahesh Kumar, Kerala, Coronavirus, Novel Coronavirus, MERS, SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Tamil Nadu, Hydration, Nutritious food, Narayana Health City, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, MERS, Sneeze, Handshake, Mahesh Kumar, Airports, Weak immunity

With Kerala reporting the first case of coronavirus in India, it is important for people from neighbouring states like Karnataka especially Bengaluru, Tamil Nadu to be cautious.  Unlike the earlier coronavirus, Severe Acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the current virus (Novel Coronavirus) is a mutated variant, while 90% of the genome is same. The mortality rate is less which is around 2 out of 100 whereas in SARS  and MERS the mortality was 25% and 10% respectively.

Most of the deaths have been amongst the elderly or people who have weak immunity. Some of the common symptoms are nasal congestion, cough and cold and body pain. Transmission happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person's secretions, such as droplets in a cough. Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. Symptoms may appear as early as 24 hrs or upto 7 to 10 days post exposure.

The treatment offered for the infection is mostly supportive. There is no specific treatment, but research is underway. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early. Drink plenty of fluids, get rest and nutritious food as much as possible.

Good hydration, nutritious food and proper rest are the key to recovery, however, early diagnosis is crucial to avoid any complications. Apart from reducing contact with people who have come from South East Asia, it is imperative to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch. Eat only properly cooked meat,  drink  warm water,  stay  hydrated and use mask whenever you go out can help in safe guarding oneself from being infected with the virus. Further, setting up thermal sensors at the countries airports, strengthening the surveillance and quarantining those suspected will also help  in preventing the spread of the condition.”

Dr. Mahesh Kumar is Consultant Internal Medicine, Narayana Health City.