Covid-19 Asymptomatic cases: Need for public awareness

I marvel at the lack of awareness that may make the earlier prediction of devastation that Covid- 19 may cause in Africa become a reality in Nigeria. This is because the lack of trust in government is giving the false impression that the ‘so called patients in isolation centres’ were admitted there as part of money making scams. I saw pictures of patients in isolation centres eating, drinking and making merry. There was even a picture of patients dancing and twerking to convince Nigerians that nothing was wrong with them.

 

The Facts

According to Carlos del Rio, MD professor of medicine, Division of infectious diseases Emoy University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia- people who have already been infected but do not show symptom start to transmit the virus 28 to 48 hours before they develop symptoms. This is the reason why contact tracing, isolation and quarantining is important. Some people may test positive, may not show symptoms of the virus, but capable of infecting others if they are not in isolation. As well, studies are suggesting that 6% to 12% of transmission occur during the pre- symptomatic stage in people who are already infected with the virus but have no symptoms. Also, Covid- 19 has a wide range of symptoms not limited to respiratory symptoms because it can affect more than the respiratory tract initially. That is why some victims present with gastrointestinal symptoms with the virus. A typical example of people who have been positive for the virus but did not show symptoms was a story featured on the 12th of May 2020 by the MIRROR newspaper where a 23- year- old Italian woman tested positive for Covid- 19 for good two months with no classic symptom of the virus. The only symptom she had was a mild fever for four days and she never progressed to developing any other symptom afterwards. She finally tested negative after 75 days. She had eleven tests in total, seven positives, two unclear and two negatives. Although she remains the only known person who had been tested positive for the virus for that long, the chances are that there might be many more like her who have never got tested for the Covid- 19.

 

Lessons to be learnt

Covid- 19 is a serious virus that needs a host (a human body) to be able to spread. Keeping people who are positive with no symptoms in isolation centres may be the most effective way of slowing the spread of the virus in a densely populated country like Nigeria. Nigerians must be made aware that regardless a money- making scam, a person can be positive with Covid- 19 for weeks and show no obvious symptoms and they can continue to infect other people if they are not in isolation.

 

Precaution

Listening to updates and advice  by the government, hand washing with soap and water  every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, sanitising the hands,  social distancing, masking your face in public are still the only precaution for preventing ourselves from contracting the Corona virus.

It is a difficult time for healthcare professionals especially those who are at the fore-front fighting Covid- 19. Many colleagues have lost their lives and the devastation left by the death of these colleagues will leave its mark on their loved ones as well as those of us that have been spared the cold- morbid hands of Corona virus. We have gone into the profession of caring for others but Covid- 19 has turned it to a death sentence for many whose loved ones may never get over the grief of their main breadwinners. The mental health consequence of Covid- 19 may take years to overcome and our lives will definitely not be the same again. The trauma is something that a lot of people will carry to their graves long after this pandemic is over.

 

Covid- 19 symptoms- World Health Organization

Most common symptoms: fever, dry cough, tiredness.

Less common symptoms: aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

Serious symptoms: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, loss of speech or movement.

 

Alubankudi-Longe is a Nurse Consultant in the UK

 

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