Presented in questions and answers format, Dr. E answers you top-most important mind-boggling concerns about the Covid-19!
Beneatha: What is by far the most frugal way to avoid acquiring corona virus infection?
Dr. E: Assume the person who doesn’t look sick is an asymptomatic carrier and maintain a reasonable but friendly distance from him/her!
Beneatha: What is a reasonable distance?
Dr. E: Two to three feet will be just fine!
Beneatha: Any other precautions!
Dr. E: Try to avoid crowded premises and never underestimate the value of inviting fresh air into the confined spaces.
Beneatha: I hear that they talk too much about washing our hands. Which one is more important: washing our hands or avoiding crowded premises?
Dr. E: When it comes to the corona, I am not a die-hard proponent of handwashing! However, I am utterly against rubbing your eyes, nose, face and mouth with your hands. I do also firmly believe that presence of moderate levels of chlorine in our tap waters is by far the best antiseptic (disinfectant) and it deters almost most germs. Wash your hands only a few times per day. However, never ever forget that you should not touch your eyes, your mouth, your nose or your face with your hands.
Beneatha: I wanted to buy face masks, but I could not find any in the marketplace. What should I do?
Dr. E: Smart people don’t care much for the masks! Remember that we cannot live 24/7 with those stupid masks on our faces!
Beneatha: I see that health professional use thermometer guns on the travelers. I think they call these devices “non-contact digital laser infrared thermometers”. Is this the best way to identify people who have corona virus infection?
Dr. E: This by far the stupidest way of screening for the corona virus. However, it is all that we can do! You may like to note that fever is our classic bodily immune response to almost any infectious ailment that you can think of. Also, you must bear in mind that if we catch a person who has already been exposed to the corona virus and going through the so-called “incubation period”, they may not present with symptoms of the disease such as fever and cough!
Beneatha: It may sound silly, but what is “incubation period”?
Dr. E: One of my idols, Socrates, once said “the unexamined life is not worth living!”
We learn by asking questions. Of course, some questions are stupid and some, like the one that you asked is smart! At any rate, incubation period is the time from the virus enters in your body until you show symptoms. In case of the coronavirus due lack of proper epidemiological studies, most microbiologists believe in a wide range of days from 4 to 24 days (Note: Updated data released suggests and incubation of 4-6 days). During this period the bug increases in number, spreads among the cells and produces enough damage to cause noticeable symptoms. You may recall that the Covid-19, like most other causes of common cold such as influenza and adenovirus, is silently (asymptomatically) contagious during its incubation period.
Beneatha: I know that it may sound silly again, but what does it mean when we say a disease is contagious?
Dr. E: It means the ability to make others sick. If it helps, a few synonyms of contagious are transmissible, transferable, and communicable!
Beneatha: What if I am singled out for quarantine because of a fever of 100o F (37.7o C). How do they know for sure if I have Covid-19 infection?
Dr. E: They must run a more specific test on you to verify that you are indeed infected with the Covid-19. One such test is a serological one that involves looking for the antibodies that the immune system of an infected individual mounts against the virus. If you would like to learn some medical jargon to dazzle your friends, the technique is called Enzyme-linked Immunoassay or ELISA. The other technique that is currently the gold standard for corona diagnosis is Nucleic acid detection. It looks for peculiar genetic patterns (DNA segments or short Nucleic acid sequences) that are identified in Covid-19 and that set this virus apart from all other corona viruses.
To be continued…