Here’s what we know so far what COVID-19 does to the human body in case of infection and death.
A new deadly coronavirus that emerged in China in late December have spread to more than 160 countries on six continents, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic pathogen.
On March 18, the death toll from the virus reached 7873 and the number of reported cases jumped to more than 194,000 globally.
Most of the cases were reported in mainland China, but the rapid progress of the infection – known as – has sparked worldwide concern.
As fear spread, scientists and researchers around the world to boost the effort to understand the new virus and how it affects the human body.
Here is what we know about COVID-19 and what happens if you are infected.
The new virus belongs to a family of viruses that can cause respiratory diseases in humans ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (mer).
The idea has been transmitted to humans from animals that have not been identified, the new virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets, such as those generated when the infected person coughs or sneezes.
average, it takes about five to six days for someone to show symptoms after being infected. However, some people who carry the virus remain asymptomatic, which means they do not show any symptoms.
The virus multiplies in the respiratory tract and can cause a variety of symptoms, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads WHO Emergency Health Program.
“You have a mild case, it looks like the common cold, which has some respiratory symptoms, sore throat, runny nose, fever, all the way through pneumonia. And there can be varying degrees of severity of pneumonia all the way through the failure of multi- organs and death, “he told reporters in Geneva on 7 February.
However, in many cases, the symptoms remain mild.
“We have seen some data on around 17,000 cases and, overall, 82 percent of them were mild, 15 percent of those with severe and 3 percent of those classified as critical,” said Van Kerkhove.
A study of 138 patients infected with the new virus in Wuhan, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on February 7, showing the mos t common symptoms are fever, fatigue and a dry cough. One third of patients also report muscle pain and difficulty breathing, while about 10 percent had atypical symptoms, including diarrhea and nausea.
The patients, who ranged in age from 22-92, was admitted to Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University between January 1 and 28, “the average age of patients is between 49 and 56 years,” JAMA. “Cases in children has been rare.”
While most cases appear mild, all patients develop pneumonia, according to JAMA.
About one third of severe breathing difficulties later developed, which requires treatment in an intensive care unit. The critically ill older and have other underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
Six of the 138 patients died – figures for the death rate of 4.3 percent, higher than estimates from other parts of China. Less than 2 percent of the total number of infected people have died from the virus so far but ththe figure could change.
Meanwhile, a study on January 24 in the medical journal The Lancet found what they called “cytokine storm” in infected patients who are terminally ill. Cytokine storm is a severe immune reaction in which the body produces immune cells and proteins that can destroy other organs.
Some experts say this could explain the death in younger patients. Statistics from China showed several people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, which is not known to have had a past medical problems, also have died from the disease.
According to JAMA, on average, people become short of breath within five days from the onset of their symptoms. Severe breathing difficulties observed in about eight days.
This study did not give a time for when the death occurred.
However, previous research in the Journal of Medical Virology January 29 saying that on average, people who die do so within 14 days of onset of the disease.
The New England Journal of Medicine, in a study on 31 January, also offered a look how the coronavirus infection affects the body over time.
This study examined the medical records of a 35-year-old man, the first case of infection in the United States. The first symptom is a dry cough, followed by fever.
On the third day of illness, he reported nausea and vomiting, followed by diarrhea and abdominal discomfort on the sixth day. On the ninth day, he developed pneumonia and reported difficulty breathing.
On the twelfth day, his condition has improved and the fever subsided. He developed a runny nose, however. On day 14, he was asymptomatic except for a mild cough.
According to local media reports, he sought treatment on January 19 and out of the hospital in the first week of February.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief, told reporters on February 24 that the statistics from China shows the recovery time for those with mild disease is about two weeks. People with severe or critical illness may take between three and six weeks to recover.
On February 28, Ghebreyesus said the country should prepare for a potential pandemic, as countries other than China now accout for three-quarters of new infections.
March 4, Ghebreyesus warned that global shortages and price gouging for protective equipment expense of the country’s ability to respond to the epidemic, and asked the company and the government to increase production by 40 percent.
March 11, WHO chief COVID-19 is characterized as a pandemic and expressed concern over the “alarming rate of the spread and severity, and an alarming rate of inaction”.
Al Jazeera News
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