By China Medical Team
in The Gambia
At present, the COVID-19 epidemic is spreading rapidly around the world, and the international fight against the epidemic is at a critical stage. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in The Gambia, the Gambian government has taken decisive and strong measures, and Gambian people from all walks of life have been actively involved in the prevention and control of COVID-19. China medical team to The Gambia has been cooperating to the best of its ability with the health authorities and Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in epidemic prevention and control and patient treatment. Facing the challenge of the epidemic, we must boost confidence, take actions, adhere to a responsible attitude, respect science and facts, and work together. We are pleased to learn that the Ministry of Health of The Gambia is working closely with other parties to carry out sensitization and education on epidemic prevention, which is very important. China medical team would like to share some knowledge about novel coronavirus itself and epidemic prevention based on our professional expertise and work experience with Gambian friends. We hope this could help in readers’ daily work and life amid the epidemic.
1. What is the difference between COVID-19, common cold, and flu?
Common cold is mainly caused by viral infection, with a few exceptions of bacteria or mycoplasma infection. The cases mainly present upper respiratory tract symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. The symptomsare generally mild and will resolve spontaneously in 5-7 days.
Flu is an acute respiratory infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. It is most common during the fall and winter. The clinical manifestations of flu are systemic toxic symptoms including high fever, fatigue, headache, and severe myalgia, while the respiratory tract symptoms are usually mild. However, it can lead to severe complications among the elderly and people with chronic conditions.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. The main symptoms are fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, myalgia, and diarrhea are also found in a few cases. Severe cases often develop shortness of breath and/or hypoxemia in a week after the first onset of symptoms, and critical cases can rapidly progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, refractory metabolic acidosis, coagulation disorder, multiple organ failure, etc.
2. What are the
symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is mainly manifested by fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Aminority of patients have symptoms such as nasal discharge, sore throat, muscle pain, and diarrhea. Some patients progress rapidly and may suffer dyspnea one week after symptom onset. Severe patients can rapidly progress to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, difficult-to-tackle metabolic acidosis, coagulation dysfunction, and multiple organ failure. In contrast, some patients have mild symptoms with no fever. In addition, there are some atypical symptoms such as early-onset symptoms of the digestive system including vomiting and diarrhea, early-onset symptoms of the nervous system including headache, early-onset symptoms of cardiovascular system including
panic and chest tightness, early-onset symptoms of the eyes including conjunctivitis, mild limbs soreness, or mild lower back muscles soreness.
3. How do people seek medical treatment when getting a fever?
When you have a fever, you should avoid going to crowded places. If your body temperature does not exceed 38?with no apparent shortness of breath, panting, heavy feelings, and other severe illness high-risk factors, such as obesity, pregnancy, chronic lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, or malignant tumor, you can isolate and enter observation at home. If your symptoms are severe, having high-risk factors or a worsening condition after observation for 1-2days, you should seek medical treatment promptly. You should wear a medical protective mask on your way to the hospital, and you should avoid taking public transportation and keep at least a one-meter distance with other people. You should initiate the provision of information including travel or residential history in epidemic areas of related diseases and contacts before and after the onset of the disease for the doctor to investigate. Also , when you have symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle aches, coughing, sputum production, or shortness of breath, you should see a doctor following the above requirements.
4. Why and when
should I wash my hands?
Proper handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent respiratory and digestive infections. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up COVID-19. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick. Washing your hands is more important than wearing masks. Each hand should be thoroughly rubbed and washed with soap and running water. It cleans your hands and removes germs that may be on your hands.
Wash your hands at the following times:after covering your mouth and nose with your hands when you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose; before, during, and after preparing food; before eating; after toilet use; when hands are visibly dirty; after returning home; after handling pets, animals, or animal waste; after contact with others; after contact with public facilities; when treating a cut or wound or caring for the sick; after touching garbage.
5. What are the
functions of wearing masks?
Respiratory droplets and close contact transmission are the main routes of transmission for COVID-19. Mask can not only prevent the patient from spraying droplets and reduce the droplet volume and spraying speed, but also block the virus-containing droplet core and prevent the wearer from inhaling them, effectively reducing the risk of infection with COVID-19.
6. How should a room
be kept well-ventilated?
Choose natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation. Based on the weather conditions, rooms should be ventilated 2-3 times a day for at least 30 minutes each time. Choose a sunny time to ventilate rooms and maintain warmth. When using mechanical ventilation, it is necessary to ensure that the air conditioning system or ventilator is operating properly and that the air conditioning filter is cleaned regularly.
7. Who is more susceptible to severe disease after being infected by COVID-19?
COVID-19 patients at the highest risk for severe disease include older age groups, those with underlying chronic conditions, and those with reduced immune system function. In addition, if you find any suspicious symptoms, please seek medical advice immediately before getting worse.
8. What can older people do to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection?
During the epidemic period, older people should avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated public spaces. Avoid unnecessary social activities. Wear a mask when going out. Keep rooms clean. Open the window frequently for ventilation. Wash hands frequently. Maintain a healthy lifestyle including adequate sleep and regular exercise. Maintain a proper diet. Use different chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked foods. Seek medical help if older people have chronic medical conditions like heart disease or lung disease. Self-monitor for fever and for respiratory symptoms. Older people should seek medical treatment immediately if experiencing any symptoms(including fever, cough, sore throat, chest tightness, dyspnea, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctival congestion, muscle aches, etc. ).
9. Is there an effective medication or vaccine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19?
An effective medication means a medication that has a prominent therapeutic effect on a specific disease, while an effective medication for COVID-19 means a medication which has a prominent antiviral effect on COVID-19. Currently, there is no prominent antiviral drug for COVID-19. Patients are given treatments that target clinical symptoms and other supportive treatments. Research institutions around the world are working hard on the development of vaccines and medications for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
10. Is the novel coronavirus a “Chinese virus”because it was first reported in China?
It happens many times in history whenthe place where a virus was first reported was actually not the one where the virus originated from. A case in point was the 1918 flu pandemic, of which historical and epidemiological data cannot identify the geographic origin. However, due to Spain’s earliest report of the pandemic, the flu was later dubbed and widely called “Spanish flu”, which is inaccurate and quite unfair.
The official name of the novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2. Wuhan is a place where the first case of COVID-19 was reported, but it is not necessarily the source of the novel coronavirus. The most important thing now is that people of the whole world work together to fight the pandemic. The source of the virus needs to be left to scientists to further study on.
The fight against the epidemic has once again proved that mankind is a community of common destiny, sharing weal and woe. We are confident that with the concerted efforts of the international community, mankind will overcome the epidemic at an early date. We are also confident that under the strong leadership of the Gambian government, all sectors of society will unite as one, and the “Smiling Coast of Africa” will restore prosperity as soon as possible.