Coronavirus Outbreak: Frontline doctor-survivor addresses common queries about the pandemic

Updated: 22 April, 2020 10:16 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Dr Veer P Gupta, Coronavirus survivor and frontline NHS doctor addresses all the queries about the COVID-19 illness, symptoms and precautions

This picture has been used for representational purposes.
This picture has been used for representational purposes.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic that has infected millions of people worldwide and left scores of patients dead, continues to wreck havoc in the world. Even as many are getting affected and recovered on a daily basis, there are precautions imposed by the government to ensure people practice social distance, stay at home and maintain basic hygiene.

mid-day spoke to Dr Veer P Gupta, a doctor at a acute medical unit in a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the United Kingdom and survivor of the pandemic himself as he addresses the queries related to the illness, symptoms and precautions to be taken to steer clear of the deadly virus.

How does the Coronavirus spreads?

The illness spreads through droplets of cough and through faeces. Dr Gupta says that if the germs stay on the surface for four to 16 hours. "Many studies have observed that the virus can stay on the metal surface for as long as 10 days," said Dr Gupta, adding that the virus can also spread toilet pipes and which he urges people to maintain basic hygiene. "We have to ensure that we maintain a clean environment wherever we live and for this  we have to clean the  environment properly with alcohol." Other than alcohol, the doctor says that heat and soap can kill the virus, thus urging people to wash hands properly.

The doctor says that as the virus, once inhaled into the surface, multiples inside the cells of the lungs in no time due to which it easier spreads from one person to another. "The person infected by the virus has the potential to infect more people in less time. Superspreaders can infect upto 50 people at one time. So once you’re infected, the virus attacks the immune system and further form cellular debris in the lungs, which causes the infection. When this happens, one may experience difficulty in breathing thus leading to respiratory failure due to lack of oxygen and then causing failure in functioning of the vital organs and multiple organ failure," said Dr Gupta.

 The patient, when suffers from multiple organ failure, is admitted to the ICU. "When the patient is admitted to the ICU, that’s where the limitation factor comes in. There are limited beds in the ICU. Thus we urge people to maintain social distancing among each other and stay at home." Dr Gupta explained, asking to maintain the lockdown strictly.

As far as children contracting the disease are concerned, the doctor said that they can be the vector of the disease but they are less likely to get admitted in the ICU. "As children are more likely to give the virus to others, government has asked schools and nurseries to shut down. This is because the children can get the virus home and give it to their relatives and pets," he said.

Debunking the confusion

The symptoms of the virus is similar to that of a flu or a common cold but Dr Gupta said that the symptoms of Coronavirus can be severe than that of the latter. "You will suffer from  a dry cough, fever and chills, but out of personal  experience, I can tell you that it is much more significant than a flu. So when you feel you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor, " Dr Gupta said. He also explained that Coronavirus is not an airborne disease and it does not stay in the air, unless one is in a hospital. " In a hospital as patients are on oxygen and other kinds of ventilations, the virus can float in the air, making one prone to the illness.

What if I am asymptomatic?

Answering this question, the doctor says that one can be infected from Coronavirus even if one does not show any symptoms. "As the incubation period of the illness is 14 days, it is important for one to stay away from vulnerable people, especially people who suffer from pre-existing conditions and people over 65 years of age. One should stay away from people suffering from hypertension, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, rheumatiod arthritis among others. Lot of conditions can cause your immunity to go down and if it goes down, it makes you more susceptible to the infection, explained Dr Gupta.


Dr Gupta advises that if one has a family member suffering from any pre-existing conditions, one should stock up the necessary medicines, especially on paracetamol, as it can reduce fever. "If you’re asthmatic, please keep your inhalers handy. Even multi-vitamins are important and it is also important to keep your immunity high." He also advises to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet, try to be stress-free and get eight hours of sleep and do as much as exercises one much.

Dr Gupta also explained the kinds of masks one should use to contain the spread of the coronavirus. "General public are not advised to wear the masks used in hospitals as healthcare workers need it to protect themselves from the virus floating in the air in a hospital setting. Surgical masks, cloth masks can be used to protect your face from the droplet transfer of the virus. If you do that along with a strict handwashing routine, then you should be safe from the virus."

About handling food items, Dr Gupta urged people to wash and cook them well. In cases of deliveries, he advised reheating the food before consumption to kill the virus.

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First Published: 22 April, 2020 09:27 IST

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