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When an infectious disease outbreak begins, the ultimate response is for public health officials to begin testing for it early. Without any doubt, one can say that testing is one of the principal factors responsible for countering COVID-19’s spread around the world. More testing leads to more identification of positive cases and helps in responding faster to those who are suffering. It does not only help in understanding who needs complete isolation and needs immediate attention but also helps in stopping the transmission of the virus from one region to another. 

Testing also helps in identifying the precise rates of infection and survival. Let us now understand the working of these tests in particular and who all are required to get one done. 

How does the test work? Currently, two kinds of tests are available to detect COVID-19 infection in suspected patients. The most widely used test type to detect the SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19 virus) is the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) test which targets the RNA of the virus (organ of the virus responsible for its replication). This type of test can identify even a single virus particle present in swabs taken from a suspected patient’s mouth or nostrils. Another test quantifies the immune (antibody) response against the virus in the blood serum of the patient. In this test, a test tube is coated with the virus components and then a minor quantity of diluted blood sample from the patient is added in the test tube. If any antibodies are present in the blood, they will bind to the coated virus components.

Who should take the test? Because of the limited amount of test kits, the medical authorities and the doctors are taking a final call on who needs one and who doesn’t need a test at all. The main objective behind this approach is only to identify as many cases as they can with whatever resources they have available. Hence, we’ve have highlighted a few points that can help you understand if you need to get yourself tested or no.

  • All patients having symptoms of the disease and have traveled internationally in the last 14 days
  • All persons who have been in contact with patients having symptoms of the disease
  • All healthcare workers who show the disease symptoms
  • All patients having symptoms of severe acute respiratory disease/Flu
  • Persons who don’t show symptoms but have been in direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in his/her contact 

According to research, the ongoing uncertainty over whether hydroxychloroquine can successfully treat COVID-19 appears to have eroded demand considerably among hospitals and across the globe. Hydroxychloroquine is a drug that is approved to treat malaria, analogous to chloroquine. However, it is associated with less significant side-effects. It is also used for treating certain auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is considerably inexpensive and is an over-the-counter medication. Let us now move deeper into understanding more about what this drug is and how it works.

Mechanism of action of Hydroxychloroquine: Hydroxychloroquine is termed as an interferon blocker and functions by minimizing the response of the immune system against a virus. This mechanism of action of hydroxychloroquine has scientists globally and is currently at the center of investigation for its effectiveness against the dreadful COVID-19 infection. An overactive reaction by the immune system is believed to be predominantly responsible for consequent pneumonia, a severe manifestation of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Clinical outcomes with HCQ in COVID-19 patients: Initial reports from China discovered that chloroquine could stop SARS-CoV-2 in-vitro, and demonstrated seeming efficacy in treating COVID-19 in humans. However, it has yielded mixed results in the initial trials conducted in humans to test its efficacy in treating COVID 19 patients.

The experts who favor the drug’s use opine that Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) reduces the recovery time significantly and also improved pneumonia in trials involving patients with relatively mild COVID-19 symptoms. Also, a combination of HCQ and azithromycin resulted in clinical improvement in 78/80 COVID 19 patients. However, the researchers opposing the HCQ use argue that HCQ in addition to standard care was not more effective versus only standard care in a trial carried out in 30 patients with COVID-19 in China. So, at present, one cannot confirm the effectiveness of HCQ in treating COVID 19 patients.

Concerns with the widespread use of HCQ in COVID 19 patients: Presently, whether HCQ works in vivo against any virus is not definitely proven, and actually, it is not effective at all as per outcomes of randomized controlled trials against several viruses, including influenza. However, despite the lack of strong evidence, some people are now trying to self-medicate with the drug, with fatal outcomes. Hydroxychloroquine can have hazardous side-effects related to heart rhythm irregularities, in cases of improper dose control, and cases of chloroquine poisoning have already emerged in some parts around the globe.

Hence, currently “A Wait-and-Watch Strategy” is the only way forward till reliable data favoring HCQ in COVID 19 emerges. Till then, HCQ can be used as empirical treatment, strictly under doctor’s recommendations, to ease symptoms in COVID 19 patients.

It’s been a while that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic but unfortunately, the world is yet to see a successful antidote that can fight the virus and save lives. With more than 100 countries being affected by the virus and non-availability of any treatment, it becomes very important for you to adhere to the guidelines issued by medical authorities to stay protected.

One of the key factors in preventing yourself from the virus is by improving your immune system along with maintaining the required hygiene standards. The stronger the immune system, the greater are the chances to resist the virus. Your immune system is known for doing a remarkable job when it comes to fighting off foreign cells to protect against illnesses. Various factors play a part, such as age and lifestyle that determines how resilient the defense system will be. Naturally, when something massive like COVID-19 strikes the globe, we’re bound to feel more concerned than usual about staying strong and healthy. Hence, boosting your immunity through the following steps can aid in preventing COVID-19.

1) Consume a healthy diet:  Food is one of the principal aspects in deciding your general immunity status and health. Consumption of diet, low in carbohydrates is advisable, as it aids in controlling high blood sugar, blood pressure, and body weight. Hence, you should take green vegetables and fruits, rich in Vitamins (B and C). You can prefer consuming diets rich in good bacteria such as yogurt, curd, etc. which aids in preserving gut immunity.

2) Get ample sleep: Prefer taking sound sleep of 8 to 9 hours as it is termed as the ideal way to aid your body in boosting your immunity.

3) Stay Hydrated: Drink around 8 to 10 glasses of water preferably warm and any form of fluids daily to maintain hydration, as it helps your body to remove any toxins and decreases the risk of getting any sort of flu, even COVID-19.

4) Exercise regularly: Regular exercise for 30 to 45 minutes along with a good diet is recommended for improving metabolism which directly impacts our immune system. A mix of free weight exercises like push-ups, jumping squats or burpees can be added to the regime and performed from the comfort of your home.

5) Avoid any sort of stress: Undue stress releases stress chemicals in the body (hormone cortisol), which makes your body prone to getting infected. Meditation, avoiding self-criticism, doing your favorite hobby, or even a video call with friends can help take down stress and indirectly make you feel stronger.

6) Avoid unwanted or leisure traveling: Though travel and leisure are something that everyone should experience for recreation but not during a pandemic. Especially, when there’s a high risk to your life. Staying home is the safest option to stay protected. 

It would be hard to deny the fact that lockdown has seriously taken a big toll on the mental health of a lot of people.  While it is important to stay informed and follow all the necessary measures shared by the respective authorities, it’s even more important to manage your mental health during this isolation period. And, with lockdown getting extended again and uncertainty of the situation getting better, it is necessary to identify ways that can keep your mind stable. Factors like losing jobs, low availability of food and groceries, loneliness and uncertainties of the future are just adding to the overall stress and anxiety levels.  Following are a few tips that can help in maintaining sound mental health during this tough hour.

1) Exercise at home: Exercising every day for 30-40 minutes or even doing yoga can be a great way to take down stress. It is said that regular participation in any physical exercise helps in decreasing overall levels of tension, stress, stabilize mood and improve sleep.

2) Consume a healthy diet: Though it is easy to binge eat any food during such times, however, eating veggies, fruits and homemade items can help keep your gut health on top.

3) Get ample sleep: Adequate sleep cycle can help your mind and body to recharge and react positively to almost all kinds of situations. Also, it is great for muscle recovery and development.

4) Stop watching negative updates: While it’s important to stay updated & informed, consuming constant content on coronavirus can stress you up. Watch news related to the disease in moderation and be selective of the content you consume on TV or social media. Instead, you may follow people that inspire you or read books/articles that help you stay positive.

5) Create a balanced daily routine: A balanced work-life routine that’s aimed towards building good physical and mental health can help in increasing the overall productivity, decrease overthinking and the negative mindset. We must take short breaks at regular intervals to rewind your mind.

6) Walking in your home space after regular intervals: Like any other cardiovascular exercise, walking also can boost endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression.

7) Get enough oxygen/fresh air: Standing in your balcony and enjoying the fresh air is a great way to switch off your mind and soak in the goodness. This way you not only breathe in some fresh air but also helps in feel light-hearted.

8) Conversation with friends: Talk to your friends or relatives if anything bothers you because sharing what you feel with your loved ones can make you feel relaxed and give a feeling of extra support. 

With the spread of the COVID-19 comes a lot of panic and fear and that’s not it. Along with that, there’s a great amount of misinformation that’s been shared all over. From the origin of the virus to transmission to preventive measures, every aspect has some of the other misinformation attached to it. And, if we want to seriously fight the deadly COVID-19, it is important to first have the detailed and correct information regarding the same. Spreading misinformation and half-knowledge will only add on to the misery and anxiety levels.

Let us now learn a few facts about COVID-19 and clear all the myths surrounding it.

MYTH 1: COVID 19 can transmit through the air and spread through mobile networks

FACT: COVID 19 does not spread through mobile networks or air transmission. Viruses cannot travel on radio waves. COVID 19 is spreading in many areas without mobile networks. COVID 19 can be spread only via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth, or nose. This is the main reason why the focus is being given to social distancing.

MYTH 2: COVID 19 virus cannot survive under sun exposure or temperature above 25 degrees Celsius

FACT: This is a myth. You can get infected with COVID-19 no matter how hot the climate is or the strength of sunshine.

MYTH 3: All patients can recover from the disease

FACT:  Most of the COVID 19 patients can recover from the COVID-19 infection. But, patients who are at an advanced age or are suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases, etc can even die due to weak immune systems.

MYTH 4: If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds means you don’t have COVID-19 infection

FACT: Having the capacity to hold your breath for more than 10 seconds does not mean you don’t have COVID-19. Dry cough, fatigue and fever are the most common symptoms of the infection. Some patients may develop more severe forms such as pneumonia. The best and the only way to confirm if you have COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.

MYTH 5: Alcohol consumption can save against COVID-19

FACT: Drinking alcohol cannot save you against COVID-19 instead it is dangerous and can increase the risk of health problems.

MYTH 6: Extreme cold weather can kill COVID-19 virus

FACT: Extreme cold temperature or snowfall cannot kill the virus as irrespective of the atmospheric changes, the human body temperature remains steady.

MYTH 7: Taking a shower under hot water prevents COVID-19 infection

FACT: Taking a hot shower does not alter the body temperature as your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Taking an extremely hot shower can, on the contrary, cause skin problems.

MYTH 8: The COVID 19 infection can be transmitted through mosquito bites

FACT:  COVID 19 viral infection is not a mosquito-borne infection such as malaria or dengue. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

MYTH 9: Hand dryers are effective in killing the COVID-19 virus

FACT: Hand dryers are ineffective in killing the COVID 19 infection. Only frequent hand washing with soap water or sanitizer will help.

MYTH 10: UV lamps should be used for hand sterilization

FACT: Ultra-violet (UV) lamps should not be used for hand sterilization as UV radiation can lead to skin irritation and damage your eyes.

MYTH 11: Thermal scanning detects all COVID-19 patients

FACT: Thermal scanners can only detect COVID 19 infection in patients who have a fever. Asymptomatic patients cannot be identified.

MYTH 12: Pneumonia vaccines help prevent COVID-19

FACT: No. Pneumonia vaccines cannot protect the novel coronavirus. It needs inventing a new vaccine, dedicated to the virus.

MYTH 13: Regular nose rinsing with saline water protects against COVID 19

FACT: No. There is an absence of any evidence confirming that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

MYTH 14: Garlic consumption can save against coronavirus

FACT: Garlic eating cannot help against COVID -19, though being a healthy food with anti-microbial properties.

MYTH 15: COVID 19 only affects the elderly

FACT: COVID 19 affects only aged patients is a myth. Persons belonging to all age groups are susceptible to get this infection. Older people or people with pre-existing medical conditions are more vulnerable to getting infected hence advised to take precautions to protect themselves from the virus.

MYTH 16: Antibiotics can treat COVID-19 infections

FACT: COVID 19 disease is a viral outbreak. Hence, no antibiotic, can work against it. Antibiotics can only be used against bacteria.

MYTH 17: Treatment for COVID-19 infection exists/is now available

FACT: Until now, no medicine is capable of preventing or treating the new coronavirus.

MYTH 18: Spraying chlorine or alcohol all over the body can prevent COVID 19 infections

FACT:  Alcohol or chlorine sprayed on the body cannot save you from the virus that has already entered the body. These can be poisonous and cause irritation and damage to the skin.