Not Considering Social Isolation? Think of the People You Can Impact
01st April, 2020
Netflix shutterstock.com
Beginning somewhere around in December 2019, the novel Corona virus took only 30 days to spread from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, in China to the entire country. Declared as a pandemic by WHO, the virus has rapidly infected people across the globe. Also known as COVID-19, the virus’s rate of growth has put countries in lockdown, halted the world economy, and messed up the healthcare systems all over the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus. The CDC, WHO, medical experts, researchers, and everyone, in general, are still learning about the impact of the virus. The worrisome part is that there is currently no treatment or vaccine to protect against COVID-19 infection. All we know is that social distancing is the only way to prevent further spreading of the virus. This is why all the advisories from the CDC, WHO, and governments across the world are recommending everyone to stay at home and practice social isolation. The only way right now to prevent the rise of COVID-19 cases is by flattening the curve. Not too keen about socially isolating yourself? Here’s what you need to know. Even if you do not experience COVID-19 symptoms, you might be a carrier of the virus. Or worse, you could be a super-spreader. No, this does not mean you’re like Superman, and you most definitely should not be proud of this label. You know why? Coz you would be putting a lot of vulnerable people at risk. Who are these people that are more susceptible to this virus if we refuse to practice social isolation you ask? Based on the information available to medical experts right now, here are those who might be most affected by the virus.
Older adults shutterstock.com
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Older adults
Adults in the age groups of 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+ have been observed to be most susceptible to COVID-19. Also, the virus has proven to be fatal to those who are in the age groups of 60-69, 70-79, and above. According to the CDC, nearly 31% to 59% of those above the age of 65 years will need hospitalization, in case they are diagnosed with COVID-19. Among these, about 11% to 31% will require intensive care.
What makes older adults vulnerable? shutterstock.com
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What makes older adults vulnerable?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to the flu. In the case of older adults, these symptoms may become more severe. When this happens, complications like pneumonia will develop. Once they develop these complications, it will be extremely difficult for them to fight the disease off. The recovery time also becomes longer, making them further susceptible to other complications.
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Pregnant women
There has been no substantial evidence yet to know if pregnant women are vulnerable to COVID-19 or if they will have more serious illnesses as a result of the virus. At this time, it is not known if the virus will cause any complications during pregnancy. This also means that there is no information if the mother will pass on the virus to the fetus or baby during delivery. Although there have been a few cases of complications during delivery, it hasn’t been determined if it is because of the virus. Infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have not yet tested positive. Moreover, no traces of the virus have been found in the samples of breast milk and amniotic acid taken from the mother. Having said that, pregnant women may still find it difficult to cope with the illness due to other factors related to pregnancy.
Why are pregnant women at risk? shutterstock.com
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Why are pregnant women at risk?
Women go through a lot of physical changes during pregnancy. Their hormone levels change and immunity levels are affected. All these factors make them vulnerable to a number of infections, including this virus. The novel coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses that cause influenza and other viral respiratory infections. Pregnant women have been observed to be at a higher risk of contracting severe illnesses due to these viral infections. So it is highly probable that COVID-19 may give rise to other infections that may take a toll on a pregnant woman’s health.
People with respiratory disorders shutterstock.com
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People with respiratory disorders
A person with pre-existing health disorders related to the lungs or respiratory tract is highly susceptible to COVID-19. Anyone who has chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and any other lung disease may face difficulty in breathing.
Why are those with respiratory diseases likely to be affected by this virus? shutterstock.com
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Why are those with respiratory diseases likely to be affected by this virus?
COVID-19 affects the lungs, throat, and airways. Its symptoms include shortness of breath and dry cough. These symptoms are similar to the flu and common cold. The virus is known to be present in the upper respiratory tract, which means that it essentially affects the respiratory system. The lining of the respiratory tract gets injured, causing inflammation. If this occurs, even a spec of dust can give rise to severe bouts of coughing. This, in turn, causes an outpouring of material that is inflammatory into the lungs and air sacs. This can lead to pneumonia. People with underlying respiratory disorders already have a weak respiratory system. COVID-19 infection may aggravate their pre-existing disorder leading to severe complications.
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People who are immunocompromised
People who are undergoing chemotherapy generally have a weakened immune system. If a person is being given medications that involve steroids, they will also be immunocompromised. HIV (especially those not on antiretroviral therapy or ART), AIDS, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and various other autoimmune disorders cause the immune system to become weak. People who have a weak immune system are highly susceptible to COVID-19. Furthermore, those with low CD4 cell count are also at high risk.
Why is a weak immune system a risk factor for COVID-19? shutterstock.com
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Why is a weak immune system a risk factor for COVID-19?
Those with autoimmune disorders such as HIV are at a high risk of getting very sick. Based on their age and other pre-existing medical conditions, such persons may experience severe complications if they become infected with COVID-19. They are likely to be placed on ventilators and hospitalized as their immune system is not strong enough to fight the disease. Another consequence of a weak immune system is that the contagious virus can reproduce and multiply more easily. For some, this virus can prove to be fatal.
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People with eating disorders
Those with eating disorders have been known to be more susceptible to the novel coronavirus. People who are obese and have a very high BMI are also at the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Why are those with eating disorders at high risk? shutterstock.com
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Why are those with eating disorders at high risk?
Any condition that causes a person to lose or gain a large amount of weight weakens the immune system. Also, such conditions can cause low white blood cell counts that can lead to conditions like neutropenia, high blood pressure, among other illnesses. Some symptoms of these diseases include susceptibility to infection, vomiting, and shortness of breath. All these symptoms can be further aggravated if the person who is suffering from an eating disorder is diagnosed with COVID-19.
People with other underlying medical conditions shutterstock.com
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People with other underlying medical conditions
Chronic underlying health conditions related to lifestyle, neurological system, and heart can also make a person a victim of the virus. Those with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases are at high risk. Those with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and motor neuron disease can easily fall prey to the virus.
Why are people with pre-existing medical conditions vulnerable? shutterstock.com
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Why are people with pre-existing medical conditions vulnerable?
People with a pre-existing medical condition may not have a strong immune system. They are required to take medications to manage their condition. Constant consumption of medications often makes the body immune to antibodies that may be used for dealing with viral infections. This means that if a person with a pre-existing medical condition is exposed to coronavirus, it will prove to be difficult for them to fight this virus off. If the person belongs to the age groups 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+, it can be a double blow for them.
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People living in long-term care facilities
Generally, it is seniors who are the usual residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. They have a number of medical conditions and ailments, often those that require them to be dependent on their carers. A single case of COVID-19 infection would put in danger the lives of the rest of the residents as well.
What makes residents of nursing homes vulnerable? shutterstock.com
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What makes residents of nursing homes vulnerable?
Almost every resident in a nursing home and long-term care facility will have an underlying medical condition ranging from diabetes, arthritis to dementia. Symptoms of the virus will become severe for them. With many of the residents suffering from multiple illnesses, it will become quite difficult to deal with the complications that will arise due to the infections. Because they are so dependent on others for their day-to-day activities, it will be difficult to contain the virus.
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Healthcare workers
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are constantly working in close contact with COIVID19 patients. With the number of reported cases exponentially increasing globally, the strain on healthcare workers all over the world is simply unimaginable.
How does COVID-19 impact healthcare workers? shutterstock.com
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How does COVID-19 impact healthcare workers?
Healthcare workers are at the frontline fighting against one of the most disruptive pandemics to have hit us globally. They are one of the most vulnerable groups because they can easily get infected. When we practice social distancing with the goal of flattening the curve, we lower the number of people getting infected. This helps reduce the pressure on healthcare workers and buy them enough time to cope with the contagious virus.