4 March, 2020
Cases of Novel Corona (COVID-19) continue to rise worldwide with reports of geographical spread and fatalities. Respiratory illness caused by the virus can cause pneumonia and symptoms like fever, cough and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
This advisory is especially for elderly who, according to preliminary estimates, are more susceptible to the illness. The preliminary fatality rate for COVID-19 is around 3% (by comparison, SARS had 9.6% and Avian Flu had 39%).
According to Vineet Menachery, immunologist at University of Texas, elderly are more vulnerable to infections because one, they are more likely to have other chronic health conditions that make it harder for their bodies to cope with damage caused by a new pathogen, and two, corona viruses encourage older immune systems to kick in with extra inflammation, which can have a cascading effect. For instance, when the virus hits a vital organ like the lungs, the body’s immune system blocks portions of lungs that are most infected. One can still breathe but not with the same capacity. If a person has preexisting conditions which lead to lower capacity to begin with, the infection tends to be more likely to be fatal.
It is normal to feel stressed, confused or scared during a crisis. Talking to people you trust, like friends and family, will help. Maintain a healthy lifestyle including proper diet, sleep, exercise and social engagement. It is the strength of immune system rather than age alone, which affects relative vulnerability. Get the facts from credible sources such as WHO, CDC or public health institutions.
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