All You Must Know About Coronavirus And Why Older Adults Must Be More Cautious About It

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Find out why you should be more cautious about Coronavirus and what you must do to keep it at bay.

The coronavirus outbreak that began from the Chinese province Wuhan is gradually becoming an epidemic with the death toll rising. According to a report in CNN, at least 1,300 people have died and more than 60,000 people have been infected. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Interestingly, at least half of the 12 reported cases of Coronavirus in the US are people who are 50 and older. While only three coronavirus positive cases been reported in Kerala so far, the doctors across the country have issued an alert for all to take preventive measures and stay safe. Silver Talkies got in touch with doctors to understand how vulnerable senior citizens are to coronavirus and what preventive steps should the older adults take. Remember, these are simple, healthy measures to avoid illness and there is no cause for panic or alarm.

Why older adults may be at a greater risk of getting infected

Going by the preliminary estimates, Dr Sachin Kumar, senior consultant and head, Department of Pulmonology, Sakra World Hospital believes that older adults may be particularly susceptible to the respiratory illness triggered by the novel coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV. He highlights two main reasons for the increased vulnerability of older adults and senior citizens to coronavirus. First, the increased tendency of older adults to suffer from underlying conditions that may hinder the body’s ability to cope with the virus and recover from the illness and second, the age-related weakening of the body’s immune system.

“The older adults and senior citizens most often suffer from respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions like heart disease or kidney problems. And these conditions prevent the body from fighting the virus. Early findings from China, which pertained to the first 17 people to die in the outbreak, revealed that their median age was 75, and a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the median age of the first 425 people infected with the virus was 59,” says Dr Kumar.

Signs to watch out for

Highlighting the symptoms of coronavirus, Dr Naganath Narasimhan Prem, chief consultant geriatric medicine /elderly care specialist, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai, says: “The older adults should be specifically cautious and reach out to a doctor in case they suffer from fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may show up within two to 14 days after exposure. Severe cases can have pneumonia.”

Coronavirus is a communicable disease and can spread from an infected person’s coughs, sneezes, droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

Prevention is better than cure: Here’s what one must do

Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub.
Always cover the mouth and nose while sneezing.
Maintain social distancing
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, seek medical care
Avoid contact with stray animals
Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products
Wear protective masks.
Take care of the co-morbid medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and update on the flu and pneumonia vaccines in general.
Go for a healthy and balanced diet with lots of vitamins and minerals and plenty of water that may help recover with any viral illness including coronavirus.
Avoid any non-essential travel to China or other parts that are already infected with the coronavirus. Follow health advisories issued by the embassies.

Click here to read about the things to be kept in mind before you order your meal while dining out.

About Author

Sreemoyee Chatterjee

Sreemoyee Chatterjee is the content head of Sliver Talkies. A curious and talkative storyteller, she loves spending time with and working for the older adults and getting the best for them. Sreemoyee has served as a correspondent and on-field reporter for 4 years. A classical dancer and thespian by passion, she spends her leisure by writing poetry, scripts for stage theatres and listening to countryside music.