COVID-19: ASYMPTOMATIC CARRIERS ARE DANGEROUS
BY UBAKA OKOFU
There is a plethora of reasons why the World Health Organization, (WHO) and indeed, the entire world believe that Coronavirus is dangerous and a threat to mankind. For the first time in many years, the world has witnessed alarming trepidation, and the entire Europe and the American continents were hapless before the devastating COVID-19. First, it was difficult understanding the mutation of the virus. Secondly, the Chinese government was a bit secretive with sharing details of the index outbreak cases that had taken place in the Wuhan district of that country.
One handy way to understand a very critical aspect of the virus is the speed at which it spreads from person to person. A Covid-19 case has the potential of infecting about 2.5 others within a very short period of hobnobbing with neighbours and colleagues. Within 14 days, an infected person will have as much capacity to infect others just the same way he or she was infected. Hence, the curve is hardly flattened if the approach of breaking down the chains of infection either by isolating both confirmed and suspected cases or ordering a complete lockdown to curtail spread is not adopted.
Another worrisome dimension to the virus has to do with the lethal and spiral effect of the disease on society. The economic effects of COVID-19 are better imagined. There is no sector of the economy that has not been affected by the pandemic. From the aviation sector to tourism, from the manufacturing sector to the transportation of persons and goods, all have been stymied by the lockdown which appeared to be the most potent means of taming the virus. The shutting down of the transport industry has affected the international price of crude. Resultantly, most developing economies that rely on oil have been plunged into an emergency recession. Back here in Africa, Nigeria, Gabon and Angola are worse hit by the crash in the price of crude oil.
What is COVID-19? How did the world come in contact with this devastating pandemic? SARS-CoV-2 was known to scientists, especially virologists, even before now. It is believed that the virus was transmitted to man from animals. Hence, it is being classified as zoonosis. Zoonotic diseases are virus-based diseases which originate from animals. Certain animals are known to carry these types of viruses. Common among wildlife species with these viruses are bats, snakes, pangolin etc. The above also supports another reason why a few are without doubt that COVID-19 came from the Chinese Wet market in Wuhan, an overt market where wild animals are purchased and eaten either completely raw or in just slightly cooked formats. This method of consumption poses danger and increases the chances of infection particularly when eaten completely raw. In Africa, wild animals are also consumed by natives. However, Africans are known for eviscerating animals and having them roasted before consumption.
The fastest means of contracting COVID-19 is by physical contacts with infected persons. If one is so close, say less than two meters to an infected person, he or she may be infected either from droplets in a cough or a sneeze. This is why the use of face mask is compulsory and not a choice. Where one is not having his face mask on, it is expected that such a person should observe the mandatory two meter distance apart from each other, or at best avoid crowded places. Studies have also found that the virus could live on surfaces of objects for up to 24hrs. So, if a contact is made by anyone with such objects and the person mistakenly touches any of the openings in his body, such a person could be infected. One may also mention here that sexual intercourse with an infected person is also being speculated as being another means of contracting COVID-19.
Essentially, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. The virus makes a straight entry through any of the openings in the human body to attack the human lungs. Nevertheless, the nostril is the easiest route to the lungs. The lungs are inflamed and this causes the person to run out of breath or to gasp now and then for breath. The virus also attacks other vital organs of the human system including the immune system which is quickly broken down upon infection. Immediately this is achieved, the infected person is asphyxiated, chiefly as a result of clotting of the blood. Those that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are the elderly, with declined immune systems and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension etc.
Whichever way one sees it, those who are asymptomatic could be as dangerous as already exposed carriers of the COVID-19 strains itself. This class of persons do not show any form of COVID-19 symptoms overtly upon contact but given that the infection has already been established, it is therefore only a matter of time before its full effects come to the fore. Meanwhile, and until this becomes openly established, any and everyone that they come in close and unprotected contact with also stand the risk of being infected through them; hence the imperative of adopting an attitude of comprehensive caution as the best line of defence.