The spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is a health crisis that many countries are paying close attention to. The disease raised panic and fear among people around the world after many cases of pneumonia were reported in Wuhan, China in late 2019. As of today, COVID-19 is still detected in many countries worldwide and has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. The disease has spread to at least 20 countries with over 250 lives lost in China.
During the ‘Keeping up with COVID-19 and Ways to Look After and Protect Yourself’ seminar, Assistant Professor Opass Putcharoen, Chief of Center of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, mentioned that, “The virus is still in the initial epidemic stages and the number of outbreaks will continue to increase. Regardless, once it reaches the peak, the numbers will gradually decrease, as with any other epidemic.”
Research shows that in the first phase, the COVID-19 outbreaks have begun from animal hosts. The origins are from mammals such as bats and camels. But once the mutated virus is resistant to human immunity, it can develop into a contagious disease and jump to humans.
A number of coronaviruses have broken out in the past. One was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), an animal virus that infected Asia back in 2002-2003. It started off in China and quickly spread worldwide with over 8,000 people infected and a 10% death rate, especially among the elderly. Another coronavirus, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) began in the Middle East during 2012-2014. A virus that was transmitted from camels to humans. The first patient was discovered in Saudi Arabia and approximately 1,700 people were contaminated. For MERS, the mortality rate was 34%.
Assistant Professor Opass confirms that the COVID-19 is curable. Data shows that the mortality rate of the COVID-19 is averaged at 3-5%, which is lower than the rate of SARS (now under control) and MERS (still spreading as the source of the disease cannot be controlled).
The cure of COVID-19 depends on each patient. If the patient’s immunity levels are strong, then they may be able to recover on their own. The group at risk are adults over 40 years old with diabetes, heart disease, or patients with chronic illnesses that already have low immunity. These patients may die from acute respiratory failure, myocardial infarction, or a virus spread in the bloodstream. Some of the major symptoms include fever, sore throat, runny nose, non-stop sneezing, shortness of breath, or diarrhea. If you fear you may be at risk, please visit the doctor.
As Thailand is one of the high-risk countries that is affected by the spread of the virus, the Thai medical and public health organizations have regularly informed the general public and medical personnel how to prevent and deal with a virus spread. Medical personnel are particularly at higher risk due to their occupation and proximity to patients.
It is useful to be well-informed about the rise of COVID-19 in order to prevent the possibility of catching the disease. The public should also keep in mind that not all travelers from China or high-risk countries are infected with the COVID-19. However, to stay safe, wash hands frequently, avoid eating raw meat, and wear a surgical mask to avoid the transmission of bacteria and viruses.