Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus.
The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell.
What is Coronaviruses & COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Laboratory testing for the respiratory coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the associated SARS-CoV-2 virus includes methods that detect the presence of virus and those that detect antibodies produced in response to infection. Detection of antibodies (serology) can be used both for clinical purposes and population surveillance.
Due to limited testing, as of March 2020, no countries had reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in their population. This variability also affects reported case-fatality rates.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How does COVID-19 spread?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.
Detection of virus
Sample collection in Florida Using real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) the test can be done on respiratory samples obtained by various methods, including nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample. Results are generally available within a few hours to 2 days. Molecular methods leverage polymerase chain reaction (PCR) along with nucleic acid tests, and other advanced analytical techniques, to detect the genetic material of the virus using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for diagnostic purposes.
Despite the ability to provide faster results, Covid-19 Instant Test Kit (or Rapid Test Kit) is useful to segregate Positive or Negative Covid-19 carrier within 2-15 minutes, but cannot provide the “strong” results of the regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests as they are not able to determine the severity of the infection.
Detection of antibodies
Part of the immune response to infection is the production of antibodies including IgM and IgG. These can be used to detect infection in individuals, to determine immunity, and in population surveillance.
To get latest updates about Covid-19 development and progress, visit Nexgram Covid-019 AID (NCA) web site.
For the latest information about Covid-19 in Malaysia, please visit Ministry of Health Malaysia.
Source: Ministry of Health Malaysia, WHO, CDC