Reviewed by Dr Pramod Kumar Sinha, MD on April 05, 2020.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)[ref]. It can infect people of all ages. But older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity) appear to be more vulnerable[ref] to becoming severely ill with this disease.
What is the Current Scenario?
Well, as the cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in a large number of countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11-03-2020 has characterized it as a pandemic[ref].
Also, though WHO has given an initial death rate estimate of about 3-4%[ref] of infected cases, the global death rate of closed cases (cases which had an outcome- patients either recovered or died) as on 14-04-2020 is around 21%[ref].
Concepts and Calculation Point:
Death rate of infected cases: (Total number of death / Total number of cases) x 100.
- It does not give the true picture of death rate as it includes the new cases as well which do not have any outcome.
- Let us consider the following example to get a better picture. Suppose 2 lacs new cases are reported on 04-04-2020. Then these cases will also be included in the denominator of the formula. This will give the wrong picture by reducing the percentage value of the death rate as the newly added cases (2 lacs) will have the outcome only after the next 2-6 weeks.
Death rate in closed cases: (Total number of death / Total number of closed cases) x 100.
- It gives relatively a much better picture of death rate as it includes only those cases which had an outcome.
- As on 14-04-2020, almost 6 lacs[ref] cases have been closed. Now, 6 lacs is a significant figure and the death rate based on it can be fairly assumed to be an average number for the future. Though this number may rise once the medical system overwhelms.
What are Modes of Trasmission[ref] of COVID-19?
Transmission through droplets
Well, the primary mode is the droplet transmission which could occur when a person is in close contact (within 1 m or 3 feet) with someone who has respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing or sneezing) and is therefore at risk of having his/her mouth, nose or eyes exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets.
Transmission through Contact
Transmission may also occur by direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment or with objects used on the infected person. Hence, people could also catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects (called fomites)– and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
You can watch the following video to know about the number of days the novel coronavirus can survive on different surfaces.
Also, current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms[ref] are high fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. The period within which the symptoms would appear is 2-14 days[ref].
How to Protect Oneself?
Well, a person can protect[ref] himself/ herself by washing his/ her hands frequently, avoiding touching his/ her face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell.
Also, one should stay at least a metre or three feet away from those coughing or sneezing. And, one should also maintain a safe distance while enganging in face-to-face conversation with other people.
Further, one can wear a mask if he/ she is going out. But masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. So, #BeSmartBeSafe.
Cleaning and Disinfecting: We advise the following methods to clean and disinfect your hands and surrounding objects.
Further, we recommend the people of India to download and install the Aarogya Setu app which has been developed by the Government of India to connect essential health services with the people to fight against COVID-19. The link for downloading the application has been given below.
What is the Treatment?
There is no specific medicine to prevent or treat[ref] coronavirus disease (COVID-19). People may need supportive care to help them breathe.
Self-care: If a person has mild symptoms, he/ she should stay at home until he/ she recovers. One can relieve his/ her symptoms if he/ she:
- Rest and sleep
- Keep warm
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Use a room humidifier
- Take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
Medical treatments: If one develops a high fever, dry cough, and have difficulty breathing, he/ she should promptly seek medical care. Currently there is no specific antiviral treatment[ref] for COVID-19. However, drugs previously developed to treat other viral infections are being tested to see if they might also be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
In case of need, you can contact Central Helpline Number (India) for corona-virus: – +91-11-23978046. Also, you can download the PDF file giving the Helpline Numbers of States & Union Territories (UTs) for COVID-19 by clicking on the link given below.
What Should be the Future Course of Action?
Well, the rate of increase in the number of infections for this disease follows the exponential growth curve. Hence, it is expected to infect 50-60%[ref] of the world population sooner or later. A snap from Google Search has been given below.
Now, as it is expected to take around 12-18 months[ref] to develop its vaccine, the best way to protect ourselves from this disease is to #MaintainSocialDistancing[ref] and #BoostImmunity[ref]. The concept of social distancing has been explained as follows.
Also, we need to understand that it takes around 4 – 12 weeks to boost our immunity effectively. Hence, we must utilise our time to virus-proof ourselves in the following way.
The Unity-in-Trinity of Boosting Immunity
It is the backbone of our immune system. An adequate intake of right nutrients ensures that we have all the necessary inputs required by our body to produce antibodies in an effective and efficient way which would then kill the novel coronavirus that may enter our body.
- Water[ref]: it is the king of all the nutrients. Up to 60% of the human adult body is made up of water. Hence, lack of water reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of all bodily processes and thus also the immune system. Therefore, it is recommended for a human adult to drink 2.5 – 3.5 litres of water per day.
- Foundational Nutrition[ref]: It is the core of good nutrition for boosting immunity.
- Healthy whole-food meals every 3 – 4 hours- it is advised to ensure an adequate quantity of cereals, pulses, and green and coloured vegetables.
- Toned Milk[ref]: 300 – 500 ml. It is preferable to drink it with supplement powder such as protinex.
- Whole Eggs[ref]: 2 – 3 per day.
- Packed Fruit Juice [ref](as raw fruits are not safe).
- It is advised to include[ref] garlic, ginger, spinach, nuts and fishes in the daily diet.
- Also, it is strongly advised to avoid smoking tobacco[ref] and drinking alcohol[ref] as these weaken the immune system significantly.
- Spices: These are the reservoirs of antioxidants[ref] which boost immunity by neutralising the free-radicals that are produced in the body. It is advised to include black pepper and turmeric in the daily diet.
- Coffee: it is a great source of antioxidants. Also, it boosts the metabolism by about 10%[ref]. Higher metabolism means that the rate of supply of energy for any process in the body is increased. This would help in producing more amount of antibodies per unit time in case of infection.
- Curd[ref]: it is a probiotic. It has lactobacillus bacteria which aids in better absorption of all the nutrients. Also, good gut microbes play a pivotal role in the functioning of the immune system.
- Green Tea [ref] :it has polyphenols which act as powerful antioxidants. Also, the Catechins present in it helps in suppressing the bacterial and viral infections. It is advised to drink 2-3 cups of high-quality green tea per day. Also, the recipe for the anti-viral tea has been given below which would do wonders for boosting your immunity.
- Warm the water to about 60 – 70 deg Celsius. Do not boil it as it would destroy the catechins present in the green tea.
- Then add tea leaves or tea bags and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Now add a pinch of black pepper powder, freshly crushed ginger, tulsi, and jaggery, and simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Your anti-viral tea is ready to be served now.
- Supplements: these would help in firing-up your immunity and assist in meeting any gaps in the nutritional needs if any.
A right mix of moderate Cardio Training and Strength Training has a powerful effect on boosting our immune system[ref]. It is advised to do 30 minutes of exercise six days a week as per the Workout Plan given below. Also, we need to understand that household work is not a substitute for exercise[ref].
Workout Plan for Boosting Immunity:
- Day 1/ 3/ 5: Cardio (10 mins) + Strength Training (Legs and Abs- 20 mins).
- Day 2/ 4/ 6: Cardio (10 mins) + Strength Training (Upper Body- 20 mins).
- The number of sets and the repetitions-per-set for each exercise has been mentioned in the title of its video tutorial given below. Also, it is recommended to maintain 45 – 60 seconds of rest between two sets.
Cardio Exercises: It increases the heart rate, thus making the heart pump blood faster. This delivers more oxygen throughout the body, which keeps the heart and lungs healthy. It could include running, jogging, cycling and rope skipping. Also, a 10 minutes cardio workout program for beginners has been provided below for ready-reference.
Legs Exercises: We recommend doing Squats, Lunges and Calf Raises. The video tutorials explaining each one of these are as below.
Abs Exercises: We recommend doing Crunches, Leg Raises and Seated Jacknife. The video tutorials explaining each one of these are as below.
Upper Body Exercises: We recommend doing Dumbell Press for Chest, Dumbell Row for Back, Dumbell Curl for Biceps, Triceps Dumbell extension and Dumbell Press for Shoulders. The video tutorials explaining each one of these is as below.
The right quantity of good-quality rest and sleep[ref] is the key to boosting the immune system. Also, we need to understand that both oversleeping and undersleeping constitute bad sleep. Hence, it is advised to do take about 7 – 8 hours of sleep per day. Also, an adequate amount of rest and recreation spaced properly throughout the day (every 3 – 4 hours) is a must for a healthy and effective immune system.
Also, it is recommended to do meditation[ref] for 10-15 minutes per day. It helps in reducing stress thus decreasing the levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in the body which acts as an immunosuppressant. Also, it balances the levels of good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine which enhance the functioning of the immune system. The below-provided video can act as a guide to meditate effectively.
Finally, let us pledge to work together to #FightCOVID19. We hope that by following the pro-active approach as suggested in this article, all of us would be much better prepared to win the battle against the novel coronavirus.
Let’s build a better world together.