The SC Medical Society COVID-19 Fact sheet.

The SC Medical Society COVID-19 Fact sheet.


What is a virus? These are tiny little biological organisms “things” found everywhere including our bodies. They can be considered as a collection of genetic code enveloped in a protein and in some cases lipids. They are a 100 times smaller than the smallest cell and about 5million of them can fit into a pinhead. They cannot divide or carry our any kind of function that normal cells perform but when they get access into the cell or infect they cell, they take over machinery of the cells and start dividing and multiplying rapidly, thereby destroying the cells which then release them and they infect more cells which is how they cause disease.

Corona viruses are one kind of a multitude of viruses and are so called corona because they resemble a crown. Some corona viruses live in humans and some in animals

 There are now seven corona viruses which have been known to infect mankind. The first four are associated with was the common and the seasonal flu. These ones have been with us for so long that the body has learned how to tolerate them or a vaccine has been found in the case of the seasonal virus. In 2002 the first corona virus to infect man from animal was identified and was called SARS-COV which infected 8000 people and killed 776, followed by MERS-COV in 2012 which infected about 2800 people killing about 800  and now SARS-COV-2 or COVID -19 which has thus far infected over 300000 people and counting killing about 13 000 people thus far. These kinds of diseases that infect humans from animals are called zoonosis.

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Since these primarily affect the respiratory track through the nose into the lungs which causes inflammation as the body attempts to fight off the infection. The inflammation causes swelling, and the lungs become leaky and when they attempt to heal they may become hardened. All these makes it impossible for oxygen to diffuse or pass through the lungs which is why people have problems breathing

SARS-COV originated from China and Hong Kong – probably from bat.

MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome originated from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia probably from Carmel

Then came COVID-19 originally known as SARS CORONA NOVEL 2. It is the Corona Virus discovered in November 2019 in China. These viruses generally get transmitted from animals to humans and in this instance, this was discovered in Wuhan where life and exotic animals were usually sold.

The point here is that the COVID-19 is a new strain to humans, and it is causing concern due to the high mortality rate. Mortality rate simply refers to the number of people who die amongst those who get infected. It is projected that this virus could kill 1 to 3 percent of those who get infected. This is a huge number. Besides the mortality rate, there is an impending disaster as a result of the great strain the COVID-19 pandemic will put on healthcare resources, the economy and our general way of life. The healthcare system will be overwhelmed if the numbers suddenly spike and many people suddenly need care.  Our healthcare infrastructures in Africa are fragile and these disease can be very expensive to treat for those needing machines like ventilators to help them breath while their bodies fight the infection and their lungs recover. We simply do not have the capacity in Africa to deal those affected with this disease and get to critical stage requiring ventilators to help with their breathing. Therefore our best tool is prevention.

Signs and symptoms of the Corona Virus: How do I know if I have Corona? Currently, part of the problem is the lack of adequate testing. Hence one must watch out for the symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

Signs and symptoms of the Corona Virus: How do I know if I have Corona? Currently, part of the problem is the lack of adequate testing. Hence one must watch out for the symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • High fever is one of the major symptoms of COVID-19 infection.                       
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or exhausted when you have not done much activity.   
  • Dry cough: Irritation of the throat with cough and not much sputum or phlegm comes out.
  • Shortness of breath, one cannot finish a sentence without gasping for breath. Difficulties in breathing; chest pain or chest pressure

Sneezing is not a major sign of COVID-19 infection.

Who can contract the virus? The virus can afflict anyone. So far, young healthy people have done way better than older sicker people. People who are more likely to fall very sick and therefore more likely to have a bad outcome are labeled the vulnerable people.

The vulnerable population include: The elderly especially people over the age of 65.                                                               

  • People with multiple medical conditions such as Lung disease, heart failure and heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Lupus, etc                
  • Dialysis patients                                                                                    
  • People with a weakened immune defense system such as HIV/AIDS patients, cancer patients on treatment, people taking medications that suppress their immune system such as prednisone, antibodies commonly called biologics etc     
  • People with a transplant history such as kidney transplant, bone marrow transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant etc.
  • Consumers of large quantities of alcohol
  • Smokers

Prevention & Treatment: There is no vaccine and there is no cure currently for the COVID-19. The current preventive measures are meant to blunt the spike and prevent the escalation of new cases that would overwhelm the system. Treatment for people that get sick involves Supportive Care whereby we control the symptoms and let the body get rid of the virus by itself. For example:

  • For fever and body pains use acetaminophen (Paracetamol. Tylenol). Always follow the recommended dose on the bottle.
  • For cough, chest or sinus congestion use humidifiers and over the counter medications that loosen mucus. A common home remedy to ease chest congestion and cough that can be used in less developed areas to put boiled water in a bucket and sitting over it covered with a blanket/towel or loin cloth so you breath in the steam from the water.
  • Rest at home (while isolating the patient) and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • It is important to note that 80 percent of people who contract the virus will do just fine with only minor symptoms.

What happens if one is diagnosed with Corona Virus? First is to prevent transmission from one person to the other within the same household and beyond that to the community. To do this, one must separate those who are ill within the household. Designate a part of the home just for this person.

The sick person needs to wear a mask when they are in the space with other people. Given that the virus is spread through droplets such as the sick person coughing or sneezing, the mask will catch these droplets.

When to come out of isolation if you get sick: Follow your doctor’s advice. In general, if sick, isolate yourself for at least seven days then you can transition back to normal life if and only if you have been free of fever or other symptoms for 72 hours (3 whole days).

Prevention Tips for EVERYONE!!:

  • Diligent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water not available.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently; Disinfect with bleach.
  • Do not touch eyes, nose, mouth and the face in general.
  • Social distancing: Avoid contact with persons. Stay 6 feet or 1.8 meters apart and no handshakes, hugs, kisses.
  • Disinfect your phone as frequently as possible.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene: Do not cough or sneeze into your hands or into the air; sneeze/cough into a paper towel and dispose of it immediately then wash your hands.
  • If you are sick, you should be in isolation in order to protect the rest of your community. This is different from quarantine which is for people who might have been exposed but are not sick. Quarantine is a precautionary measure of staying at home and this should last 14 days. The individual within this time will monitor self to see if they develop the symptoms. 14 days is the incubation period whereby if you have the virus it would manifest within that period.

There is a psychological component to this. It is causing so much stress, panic, anxiety. While it is important to be physically distant from persons and staying away from crowds, we must not forget to use our social networks to connect with family and friends.

Just because you have a cold or cough does not mean you have COVID-19.

Prevent, Protect and Care for yourself and those around you!! Spread the word, let us all be safe!

Compiled by:

Dr Edmund Folefac

Dr Tonga Nfor

Dr Fausta Ditah

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mbuli

    Great. Thanks for the education. Is telemedicine operational?

  2. brandy mabel

    This is so interesting …thanks to all the Docs for this great information.. Atleast I am a little relief from the fear..cause I have sneezed this mornx n feared maybe I got it.. I appreciate the advice…may God bless u ..

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