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  • Dr. Steven W. Gunn MD

COVID 19 (CORONA VIRUS) UPDATE - What Everyone Needs to Know - Dr Steven Gunn MD

Updated: May 9, 2020

WHAT IS IT AND HOW DOES IT MAKE US SICK?

An infectious Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes an upper and lower respiratory tract infection similar to the flu but much worse in the elderly and persons with high blood pressure, heart, lung and kidney disorders, diabetes and weak immune systems. Latest scientific evidence shows that Covid 19 attacks the iron carrying protein (haemoglobin) part of the red blood cells knocking out the iron so that the red blood cells can no longer carry oxygen to the organs and cells, starving them of oxygen. The excess iron in the blood stream is toxic to the body (especially the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys) causing organ failure. The Covid19 virus acts like a unique viral “parasite” similar to the malarial parasite which targets the red blood cells. It also causes the blood to thicken forming blood clots which cause strokes, thromboses in the legs, lungs, kidneys, and heart, leading to difficulty in breathing, kidney failure and heart attacks. All this is aggravated by over activity of the immune system which causes further damage in the lungs.


WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? The majority of people infected have little or no symptoms

- Fever

- Coughing

- Loss of sense of smell & taste

- Sneezing – less common

- Wheezing

- Shortness of breath

- Headache, sore throat, sputum production and muscle pain


In more severe cases:

- Symptoms of Blood Clots (eg. Strokes, DVT, Pulmonary Embolism) Pneumonia

- Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

- Kidney Failure

- Heart Failure & Death


HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

From person to person through respiratory secretions like saliva, sneezing, kissing, touching, airborne droplets and shaking hands.


HOW LONG DOES THE VIRUS SURVIVE ON SURFACES?

We are not exactly sure, but from 72 hours to multiple days.


WHAT IS THE INCUBATION PERIOD?

Person has no symptoms while the virus is incubating in the body. Average incubation period 5-6 days but can be 2-14 days.


FOR HOW LONG IS A PERSON INFECTIOUS?

A person who has COVID-19 Virus can infect other persons for 10 days on average, but even longer in patients who are severely ill (2-4 weeks).For asymptomatic patients they are not exactly sure.


HOW DEADLY IS IT?

For young people not very deadly (0.2% under 20 years).

For persons over 80 years, quite deadly (approx. 15%-40% death rate) or more.

On average less than 1 to 3.4% death rate. Statistics can vary according to place, age, sex, ethnicity and underlying medical disorders.


HOW LONG DOES IMMUNITY LAST?

We are not sure. Once one has recovered from the infection one should have good immunity, however, it is possible to get re-infected, but the percentage is low.


HOW QUICKLY DOES IT SPREAD?

Very quickly but infects less people than the Influenza Virus (COVID-19 for every 1 infection, 2 others will be infected) for Flu, ( for every 1 infection, 10 others will be infected).


HOW DO YOU TEST FOR IT?

If you are showing symptoms or think you have been exposed to it you can have a RAPID FINGER PRICK Antibodies test or a NOSE AND THROAT PCR LAB SWAB test. Rapid tests (2-60 mins) PCR SWAB (1-2 days). New PCR Tests are being developed which are much faster e.g. 1 to a few hours. The PCR Test is best because it is far more accurate, but new accurate ANTIBODY tests have been developed.


HOW CAN ONE PREVENT IT FROM SPREADING?

  1. Avoid close contact with other people and touching your mouth, nose or face or eyes.

  2. Wash your hands on and off all the time with soap and water or 70% alcohol disinfectants.

  3. Wash hands before eating, after eating, after going to the toilet, after touching door handles, toilet handles, taps, handrails, stair and escalator rails, before and after touching knives and forks, cups, glasses, plates, supermarket baskets and trolleys etc. and all surfaces especially metal, glass, plastic and wood.

  4. Wear glasses, or goggles, or a shield to protect your eyes from saliva droplets.

  5. Avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging, sneezing and coughing near other people and spitting when you speak. Even if you cannot see the droplets they are in the air.

  6. If you cough or sneeze or someone else does then cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue and throw away in a refuse bin, immediately.

  7. Disinfect surfaces, furniture, instruments, cell phones, lap tops, buttons etc.

  8. Wear a mask if you are infected, have symptoms, or not infect