Dr. MERCY KORIR: Demystifying the myths on Corona Virus

Kindly introduce yourself to us.

I am Dr. Mercy Korir, a medical journalist at The Standard Group. I do both broadcast and print.

The world has stood literally because of COVID-19. What is this COVID-19? What causes this disease?

This is a viral disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2, or the novel Coronavirus.

Is it in a way getting airborne?

No, it’s transmitted through respiratory droplets directly from a cough or sneeze, or when they contaminate a surface.

What are the symptoms of this virus?

Main ones include cough, fever or difficulty in breathing. Symptoms are like those of any other upper respiratory tract infection. So it has to be in someone with a recent travel to a high risk area, or come in contact with someone who has travelled over the last 14 days or attended to someone confirmed.

On the recovery, does one fully heal, in terms of having strong lungs and clear airways?

So far yes, people who have been infected recover well.

There are some surfaces we must touch unconsciously; like door knobs, taps etc. How do we ensure that we don’t expose ourselves to the virus at such surfaces?

They have to be cleaned and disinfected regularly, especially in office spaces. Use 1 part bleach for 6 part water. This will work well. Any bleach can do. Avoid touching these surfaces if you can. And if you do, wash hands with soap and water or use sanitiser for them.

Do the symptoms have a manifestation cycle? And at what stage does the virus lead to death?

The virus has an incubation period of 14 days. Symptoms can show up any time along that time. Death arises from the pneumonia caused by the virus. This mainly affects the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions like chronic lung disease.

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Does this make the young immune to it?

No, everyone young and old is susceptible that’s why the safety measures apply across board..

Now that Covid 19 tends to ravage mercilessly on the low immune persons. What is your take on people who are taking Vitamin C as immune boosters?

It will not reduce chances of getting it. Everyone can get but only people with a strong immunity will have mild or moderate disease that their body can fight. It’s healthy to have a balanced diet, including fruits rich in Vitamin C.

In your estimation, how many ICU beds are available in Kenya and are we capable of handling a mass outbreak of the disease?

Kenya has 400 ICU beds, in both public and private facilities across the country. Anyone’s best bet is starting safe and avoiding as much as possible contracting the disease. Once it is critical, access to an ICU bed/critical care does not guarantee survival. From the Kenyan numbers, you can weigh the odds of even getting a bed.

Social Distancing. Quarantine. Isolation. What does each of the three entail and to whom does it apply?

Social (actually physical) distancing involves keeping at least 1metre physical distance between two people to avoid contact and chances of getting infected. It applies to all.

Quarantine involves keeping away, for example in a room with limited contact. It applies to someone suspected to have COVID19.

Isolation involves keeping away by someone diagnosed/confirmed to have COVID-19 to avoid spread of the virus.

Will the curfew help in curbing the spread of this virus?

It might, as it limits further movement and congregation by people.

There have been rumours of some medicines that can cure the disease. Some are saying ibuprofen, some chloroquine etc. Are these rumours true? What is the progress of having a vaccine for the virus thus far?

There is no medicine, no cure, no vaccine for COVID-19 yet. The vaccine will take, approximately, at least 12 months for any tangible progress. If it’s developed sooner, the better.

The virus has brought about fear among many people so fear. How can we overcome the fear and stress that arises during these times?

Fear, stress, anxiety is part of the many things everyone has to deal with both in health and economically. The best way is have the right and correct information to make decisions. Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation are some of your reliable news sources. Discuss with family, friends and kids about what’s happening so that you all deal with it together. These are difficult times globally.

Ultimately, what is your parting shot?

Our safety and that of our next neighbour depends on individual responsibility. Let’s follow laid down measures as much as possible. They’re simple, they’re doable.

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