Dr. BERNADETTE ACHIENG: What you need to know about Corona Virus

Kindly introduce yourself to us.

My name is Dr Bernadette Achieng and I am a medical doctor.

So Daktari, it is corona virus everywhere. What is this corona virus? And what causes it?

Corona virus is a respiratory RNA virus with several types such as MERS (Mediterranean Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS. Specifically for COVID 19, it is caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

The disease is caused by the droplets of the virus being coughed out or sneezed by an individual who is infected and one inhales it or touching surfaces that have the virus and touching your face with it, specifically the membranes.

Thus, is the disease airborne?

According to virologists, it’s not airborne as such. The fact is that its droplets can easily fall on surfaces such as your hands or body and someone touches it, thus, the risk of transmission.

What are the symptoms of the virus?

The symptoms are divided into two. The most common are dry cough, fever, runny nose, difficulty in breathing. The uncommon ones include joint pains, headache, dizziness and diaorrhea.

In case a pregnant woman is infected with the virus, can she pass it to the unborn baby?

From studies, so far there has been no recorded positive test in babies born to mothers with covid 19.

After how long are these symptoms visible? And what is the cycle for manifestation of the virus?

It takes 3-14 days for the symptoms to show. The cycle occurs in two phases;
Phase 1 is the incubation period and takes 3-4 days, where you have symptoms like cough and fever. At this point it may resolve.

Phase 2; If your immunity is low, one gets severe symptoms and the progression of the disease.

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Incase someone shows symptoms of the disease, what steps should he/she take?

One should visit the nearest facility so that he/she is screened and tested.

With the current lockdown, do you think the 30 days is adequate enough to eradicate transmission?

The lock down will help in controlling/avoiding new cases. It will help in tracing of those in contact and yes the 30 days, I am certain it will help eradicate transmission.

It is said that population with low immunity (old age) is at highest risk of mortality while children are the least in severity with the condition (Putting in mind children also fall under the low immunity category). Any research based explanation on this?

I haven’t come across any research in relation to the children and why their mortality is not so high. My thinking though, is that their parents are doing as much as they can to help in observing the preventive measures.

Even if people use sanitizer and wear masks, can this virus still be spread through sex?

Sex is also risky, remember your bodies are coming into contact and during sex you will kiss, touch faces etc.

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How is it possible to quarantine in a family home? Doesn’t this put the other family members at risk?

This is challenging because if you look at the WHO requirements for quarantine, most family homes won’t be able to do it. Own bathroom, own utensils, the person who is infected should be attended to by one person, need for the masks etc. Practically it’s challenging.

So how can we prevent the spread of the virus?

Prevention comes into ways: community and health care workers. Under community;

  • Handwashing with soap and running water or hand sanitizer after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Respiratory hygiene; covering your mouth while coughing or sneezing on to your elbow or use a tissue which you dispose thereafter.
  • Avoid touching your face because the virus can be transmitted through the membranes.
  • Avoid crowding especially in poorly ventilated areas.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched.

If one has no Respiratory symptoms,no need to have a mask.

For health care workers;

  • Ensuring everyone entering the hospital must be screened.
  • Infection control around people who are suspected or confirmed. Gown, mask, isolate the patients and appropriate tests to be done.

Remember not to expose those who are at high risk, the elderly and the young to crowded places. Also, people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension,cancer and HIV.

Under what circumstances, does the virus lead to death?

Severe forms especially amongst the elderly and those with suppressed immunity or underlying conditions so they end up having complications like organ damage.

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Finally, is there hope for a cure for the disease?

There is hope. From data that has been published, there are people who have been cured. Then there are developments going on for a vaccine.

Ultimately, what is your parting shot?

Covid 19 is here with us. Our hygiene will help control transmission. Self quarantine is key.

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