THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

In the sea of information we have been bombarded with about COVID-19 in recent weeks, it’s no wonder some of us are feeling confused and unsure of what exactly we should be doing. This article will tackle some misconceptions about the COVID-19 pandemic, so that you can be better informed about the situation.

“Coronavirus affects only old people”

“I’m fit and healthy, there is no chance that I will get it”

“It’s only people who have health issues who are at risk”

“Kids are not affected at all”

“It’s just a little flu”

If any of those statements sound familiar to you, or you know someone who believes one or more of these statements, read on to help dispel these harmful misconceptions.

1. CORONAVIRUS ONLY AFFECTS OLD PEOPLE OR PEOPLE WHO ALREADY HAVE HEALTH ISSUES SUCH AS HYPERTENSION, ASTHMA, DIABETES AND OTHER SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES.


#FALSE
Reports from a well-known medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases shows that even asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 pneumonia have abnormal lung findings on computed tomography (CT). So even though you are not experiencing fever, dry cough, or flu like symptoms, your lungs can still be impacted by the virus (1).

Of course it is always better to be fit and healthy, but being fit and healthy does not necessarily mean that you are immune to the virus.

Recently in France, a young teenager died from the virus and she didn’t have any signs of serious health issues prior to contraction of the virus. In other words, she was ‘fit and healthy’. Recently, among the first reported cases in the US, around 40 percent of the patients that required hospitalisation were between the ages of 20 and 54 (2).

2. KIDS ARE NOT AFFECTED AT ALL, IT’S JUST A LITTLE FLU.
#FALSE
A study by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that children do contract the virus as much as adults, but as we have heard on TV, they tend to have milder symptoms (3). So, many people were happy to hear the news, thinking that kids were kind of immune from the problem or it was like having a little flu. Things have evolved and researchers are changing their view about the situations. Their views haven’t changed drastically and children are still overall less prone to serious Covid-19 infections than adults (4). Although, babies and toddlers appear to be at higher risk of having severe symptoms than school-age kids. Kids with pre-existing medical conditions (asthma, cystic fibrosis, heart conditions and more) can be in serious danger (5).

Another study from China shows that only 28% of the children recorded in the same research didn’t present any symptoms (5). Compared with adults, it is true that children rarely have serious health issues such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Paediatric patients in this lancet study show that children had a lower number of pneumonia and symptoms such as fever, cough and dyspnoea compared with adult patients with COVID-19. However, in this study, the prevalence of leucopenia, lymphopenia and increased myocardial enzymes in children with COVID-19 was similar to that in adults.

Between January 16th 2020 and February 8th 2020, the Chinese CDC identified 2,143 children under the age of 18 and found that only over 4% of kids had no symptoms and out of 2143 kids, 125 had complications with breathing which consequently decrease their ability to acquire oxygen to their organs. From these cases, 13 kids became critically ill and where experiencing life-threatening respiratory issues and organ failure. The majority of these serious paediatric cases were infants under the age of 1 (6).

In conclusion and put simply, children are still far better off than adults right now. But babies, toddlers and kids with other conditions remain at risk. If you know or have a child who is immunocompromised or have pre-existing conditions, the Perth Children Hospital have some good resources to advise you on the matter.

3. WHY IS THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE VIRUS CONSTANTLY CHANGING?
As we know, the virus can affect anyone regardless their genetic make-up, which means it doesn’t matter if you are Asian, African, European or Australian, you can be affected. However, many people get confused because they’ve heard that only older people get it. To be able to develop statistics to know who will be more affected than others, scientists do what we call epidiomologic studies. In other words, it is the studies of a specific condition and its impacts on the population.

These kinds of studies are done for many conditions such as osteoporosis, lower back pain and more. Often those studies take months and years to be published and accepted amongst the scientific community as they have to go through very specific and rigorous processes. For example, those specific studies allow us to say that women are more prone to osteoporosis compared to men. And it requires scientists to record a lot of data overtime.

It is important to know that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new disease and therefore, there isn’t extensive data available for the doctors to work with. Italy has the oldest population in Europe and the only epidiomologic studies to date now are from China, therefore there is a serious need to capture more data on the disease (7).

4. STAYING AT HOME OR SOCIAL DISTANCING WON’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE
#FALSE
Fortunately enough, in the South West of WA, the Busselton community have been really responsive to government directives (from my point of view). I can see empty streets when I go to the shops, empty beaches when I walk my dog and people practising social distancing very well – except for my dog who wants to say hi to anyone!

Image source: The University of Sydney

However, I’ve heard on the news that some people do not believe in self-isolation or staying at home. It is true that we don’t need to panic about the situation – but, there is no reason to down play what is happening by saying: “It is a little flu”, “Only old people get it” and “Children are not affected.”

The reality is that the virus can spread very rapidly as we have seen in Europe – resulting in hospitals overflowing with patients if we are not being careful to follow medical advice. This situation is really problematic because many people are not only suffering from COVID-19 but cancer, HIV, cardiac issues or pulmonary problems. If our hospitals are only focusing on COVID-19 patients because we are taking the situation too lightly, it will impact other people in need.

In this unprecedented time, there is no reason to fight over toilet paper or food, it won’t really beat the virus at all. But it creates panic amongst the community where we should be working together and supporting each other to ensure that we can overcome this issue now, and the issues into the future.

Image Source: The Conversation

This is the reason why it is important to keep ourselves informed about the situation and follow government guidelines.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
World Health Organisation or Australian Government Department of Heatlh

 

References:

COVID-19 pneumonia: what has CT taught us? (2020). Elaine Y P Lee, Ming-Yen Ng, Pek-Lan Khong .https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30134-1/fulltext

Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — United States, February 12–March 16, 2020. Weekly / March 26, 2020 / 69(12);343-346. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm?s_cid=mm6912e2_w

Epidemiology and Transmission of COVID-19 in Shenzhen China: Analysis of 391 cases and 1,286 of their close contacts. (2020) Qifang Bi, Yongsheng Wu, Shujiang Mei, Chenfei Ye, Xuan Zou, Zhen Zhang, Xiaojian Liu, Lan Wei, Shaun A Truelove, View ORCID ProfileTong Zhang, Wei Gao, Cong Cheng, Xiujuan Tang, Xiaoliang Wu, Yu Wu, Binbin Sun, Suli Huang, Yu Sun, Juncen Zhang, Ting Ma, View ORCID ProfileJustin Lessler, Teijian Feng https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.03.20028423v3

Coronavirus Infections in Children Including COVID-19. March 12, 2020. An Overview of the Epidemiology, Clinical Features, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention Options in Children. Zimmermann, Petra MD, PhD; Curtis, Nigel FRCPCH, PhD. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal:https://journals.lww.com/pidj/Abstract/onlinefirst/Coronavirus_Infections_in_Children_Including.96251.aspx?context=FeaturedArticles&collectionId=2

Clinical and epidemiological features of 36 children with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Zhejiang, China: an observational cohort study. March 25, 2020. Prof Haiyan Qiu, MD, Junhua Wu, MD, Liang Hong, MD, Yunling Luo, MD, Prof Qifa Song, MSc, Prof Dong Chen, MSc. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30198-5/fulltext

Epidemiological Characteristics of 2143 Pediatric Patients With 2019 Coronavirus Disease in China.March 2020. Yuanyuan Dong, Xi Mo, Yabin Hu, Xin Qi, Fang Jiang, Zhongyi Jiang and Shilu Tong. American Academy of paediatrics. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/03/16/peds.2020-0702

Defining the Epidemiology of Covid-19 — Studies Needed. (2020) Marc Lipsitch, D.Phil., David L. Swerdlow, M.D.,and Lyn Finelli, Dr.P.H.https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2002125

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