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The outbreak of COVID 19 has caused a lot of fear and panic as the number of new cases and deaths continue to increase. Previous bulletins covered preventive measures, myths about the disease among other aspects. This issue of the bulletin will discuss the risk factors, signs and symptoms to look for and what to do if you develop some or all the symptoms.

Risk factors for COVID 19

Some of the associated risk factors of COVID 19

  • Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying
  • People aged 65 years and older regardless of any medical conditions.
  • Smoking.
  • Any lifestyle that results in poor personal hygiene will increase the risk of catching the virus.
  • Poor nutritional intake can further compromise one’s ability to combat illness, so maintaining a balanced diet is important to staying as healthy as possible during the outbreak
  • Under 70 years who have an underlying health condition (like HIV, asthma, pregnancy)
  • People who live in a nursing home or long term care facility.
  • People with complex health conditions

coronavirus china graph

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment as stated by WHO.   Some patients however, may develop more severe disease and require critical care services by specialized medical teams.

Being a respiratory disease, it is important to distinguish COVID-19 from other illnesses that have a similar clinical presentation notably the common cold and the flu. The most common symptoms are dry cough, fever and breathlessness and some features to help distinguishing COVID-19 from the flu and the common cold are shown below.

symptoms of covid-19-flu-cold

 The more severe COVID-19 cases may present to complete respiratory collapse, or other organ failure like kidney failure and heart failure.

Steps to take when presenting signs and symptoms of COVID-19

  • Stay at home:People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except you get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Call your doctor, or better still, call the dedicated COVID-19 help line at @1510. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
  • Avoid public transportation:Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Stay away from others:As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available. Try to keep a safe distance from other people (at least 6 feet away). This will help protect the people around you who are not infected yet.
  • Limit contact with pets and animals:You should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
  • Call ahead:If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
  • If you are sick:You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
  • If you are caring for others:If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in the home should stay in a different room. When caregivers enter the room of the sick person, they should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
  • Cover:Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose:Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Wash hands:Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not share:Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.
  • Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department: Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information endeavor to follow them strictly.

To conclude, people with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral. In Cameroon the info line for COVID-19 is 1510.