COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms can be mild and include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, but can also be severe, progressing to pneumonia and multi-organ failure through vascular damage. From the outset it was believed that this virus was zoonotic, bearing similarity to bat coronaviruses, and that it originated from an animal and seafood market, but the rapidly increasing rate of infection confirmed that humans can pass the virus to each other.
Since it was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in late December 2019, thousands of cases of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), have been reported in China, as well as in other countries around the world. The virus spread rapidly to other countries, both in and outside of Asia, and lead the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare this a pandemic in early March 2020. As of 27 March 2020, more than 560,000 people had contracted the virus, and over 24,000 people had died from it worldwide. Apart from China, Italy and Spain, have been two of the hardest hit countries with the number of cases and deaths increasing rapidly on a daily basis. Across the world, thousands more cases were recorded as testing for the virus became more widespread.
Many prevention and management efforts around the world have been put in place to reduce the number of infections, including rigorous hygiene instructions, mandated social distancing, stay-at-home orders and self-quarantining.
Nearly 80% of people with the novel coronavirus are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that don’t present the need for a physician appointment. Of the remaining 20%, the World Health Organization finds that 13.8% develop severe disease, which they define as significant respiratory distress with blood saturation levels less than or equal to 93%.
Pre-existing illnesses that put patients at higher risk are: