health talk:with Dr Johannes Marisa
Coronavirus, now known as Covid-19, is wreaking havoc in the world now with high mortality in the United States of America and Europe. More than 5 000 people die every day from the calamity. We pay condolences to the three families that have lost their beloved ones in Zimbabwe. May God comfort them during this difficult time. Capacitated countries have tested quite a number of their people. The US has the highest number of cases of more than 450 000, followed by Italy and Spain. So far the world has lost over 92 000 people and the rate is threatening to go up as the rate of infections is still increasing.
Covid-19 has symptoms, which we ought to know about so that we do not keep the disease without detection. It is the duty of clinicians to take history well from patients and find all the symptoms that patients present with. Fever of three days or more without other localising symptoms, for example, painful micturition, skin or soft tissue infections, dry cough, sudden onset loss of taste sensation, chest pains, muscle aches and generalised body weakness.
Practitioners should seek history of travelling. Recently, we heard the Covid-19 casualty in Bulawayo had visited Hwange National Park, then back to Bulawayo.
He then became unwell and consulted his family doctor before being referred to a private hospital. The whole chain may mean gross contamination. Who gave him Covid-19? No one knows. We are in trouble as a nation then. Our testing is inadequate!
Covid-19 has come with so many myths, lies, misunderstandings and deliberate manipulation of information by some unscrupulous elements on social media.
However, in medical practice, we have been daunted with some of the questions below:
What is the recovery time for coronavirus disease?
With the current available data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately two weeks and is three to six weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.
Serious disease sees patients getting into respiratory systems and these would need oxygen support or ventilation.
Who is at risk of coronavirus disease?
People of all ages are at risk of getting infected. However, older people, people with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, the immunosuppressed are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. Therefore, it is prudent for all ages to protect.
Does coronavirus affect Africans?
Coronavirus affects everyone. Africa only registered cases later than Europe and America possibly because of less travelling into the continent. Africa has only about 4% of migrant Chinese of which the virus started in Wuhan province of China. Moreso, Africa only receives 5% of all the global tourists meaning less tourist mingling with Africans hence lower speed of transmission.
Is coughing a symptom of coronavirus infection?
A continuous dry cough and a high temperature of about 38°C are usually prevalent. Some patients present with tiredness, muscle aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
Is there a vaccine for Covid-19?
When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a good number of months or years for a vaccine to be developed. The vaccine will have to be validated by the World Health Organisation after clinical trials are carried out and results published. Therefore, whoever claims to have a vaccine today is a dangerous liar who needs decapitation. It was only last week when I heard that Zimbabwean drivers trying to cross into Zambia were forced to receive some unknown Covid-19 vaccine across the Zambezi. If it is like that, then our Foreign Affairs and Health ministries should urgently investigate.
Is there specific treatment for Covid-19?
There is currently no specific treatment for Covid-19. The process to look for treatment is still ongoing. At least 80% of Covid-19 patients do not need treatment at all, but the disease will disappear on its own. What is currently there at the moment is conservative management with intravenous fluids, oxygen, ventilation, and some antibiotics like Azithromycin. I have been pestered about Chloroquine, our old anti-malarial drug. Chloroquine has not been validated for Covid-19 yet, but it has been shown to bring some positive effects on Covid-19 patients. This has forced a scramble on the drug with nowhere to find it in Zimbabwe at the moment.
Let us all observe good hygiene. Let us support our government initiatives in a bid to contain the virus. We are in lockdown, let us follow orders!
l Johannes Marisa is a medical practitioner, public health practitioner and an educationist who can be accessed on email@example.com.