What is happening and what should I do? The inside scoop on COVID-19

By | Thu 5 Mar 2020

Keep up to date with the latest on Covid-19 in Chiang Mai on CityNews

The Chiang Mai Public Health Office held a meeting at ISDSI on Monday the 2nd March, to provide up to date and accurate inforamtion about the COVID-19 virus.

“The most important thing about following the news is being conscious. News sources come from many different places; both real data and fake data exist.” –  Kittiphan Chalom, Medical Doctor and Field Epidemiologist at Chiang Mai Provincial Health Office.

In the era of sensational media, it is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Here is what you need to know about coronavirus and how to prevent the spread of disease.

Coronavirus, now medically termed COVID-19, began at a fresh market in the densely populated province of Wuhan, China. The virus, suspected to have originated from exposure to animals such as bats and seafood, is now an epidemic. Although Chinese officials have long since closed the market believed to be the origin point. The 20 original patients have multiplied into over 80,000 cases in China with over 3,000 deaths. Shortly after the outbreak in Wuhan, Thailand found evidence of Coronavirus. When the viral genetic material was compared to the Chinese samples, it was concluded that the virus had made its way outside Chinese borders. Coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV and 2019 novel Coronavirus, is officially termed “COVID-19,” where CO stands for corona, VI for virus, D for disease, and 19 for 2019. The disease is transmitted from person to person and to date there are over 95,000 reported cases worldwide in over 75 countries.

What is coronavirus?

After analysing and isolating the virus, Chinese experts and the World Health Organisation have concluded that corona, a viral infection of the airways, is a new strain of disease. Humans have not built up viral immunity and thus are more likely to catch the virus if they are exposed. Symptoms range from mild, such as a cough or sore throat, to severe, in which the infection can cause pneumonia, difficulty breathing, or a high fever. While children are less likely to catch the disease, high-risk groups include the elderly and those with congenital disease.

Coronavirus is spread from person to person. On average, one infected person can transmit the virus to 1.4 – 2.5 additional patients. This is a dangerously high level of transmission when compared to SARS and MERS. Coughing and sneezing can transmit the disease, as well as touching contaminated surfaces, such as tables, railings, and doorknobs and then touching the body, specifically the eyes, nose, or mouth. To prevent transmission it is critical to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, practice respiratory hygiene, such as covering your mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing, maintaining social distance, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and practicing self isolation if sick until fully recovered.

If you have a fever, signs of pneumonia, a history of travelling or living in high risk areas, or experience interacting with infected individuals it is critical that you are tested for COVID-19.  The standard method for disease detection is PCR, a genetic material of SARS-CoV 2, that is collected from nasal, throat, or phlegm secretions. PCR can be incubated for up to 14 days and are examined to test for the presence of PCR genetic material. If PCR is detected, it confirms the presence of the COVID-19 virus. There is no official treatment for coronavirus. Physicians and researchers are in the process of studying antiretroviral drugs which require a period of 6 months or more to test and develop.

Thailand understands the threat of the virus and has surveillance strategies in place. Hospitals around Thailand are setting up Fever and ARI clinics to screen patients before entering hospitals. Thailand is working with Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong on joint surveillance, as each location shares a high amount of Chinese tourism and all were severely affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003.

In this time of health crisis, it is important to fight the epidemic as a global community. It is everyone’s responsibility to practice prevention techniques and follow health guidelines. To overcome this crisis, we must all go through it together.