Coronavirus: Washing hands, social isolation from sick, less face touching will go a long way to help elderly
Older people have weaker immune systems, increasing their risk of infections
The novel coronavirus appears to be preying on a particular group more than the others: the elderly.
"Older people and people with underlying health conditions, like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, for example, were about twice as likely to develop serious outcomes versus otherwise younger, healthier people," Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s national immunization and respiratory diseases center, said.
Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) in their recent report highlighted the need to track disease severity among vulnerable groups — those with underlying conditions, older age groups, pregnant women and children. This, in turn, could help medical experts provide the necessary care. Building on data from China, scientists believe that the risk of disease severity and death increases with age: about 21.9% of patients over the age of 80 have been killed.
In older people
Older people have weaker immune systems, increasing their risk of infections. It gets worse when COVID-19 is accompanied by other health conditions such as chronic cardiac disease, lung disease, and diabetes.
Experts suggest more handwashing, less face touching, and avoiding contact with others — especially with those who might be ill. Practicing good social distancing could go a long way in decreasing the disease risk.
"Think twice before you expose yourself to someone who is showing symptoms. This is especially important for people who are older and have underlying health conditions," Messonnier said.
Older people could also stock up their resources, keeping adequate supplies of routine medications, like medication for blood pressure and diabetes — if supplies deplete.
However, age does not appear to matter when patients are already battling other health conditions. These people tend to suffer a higher death rate.
In pregnant women
The coronavirus continues to remain a mystery, even as scientists are scrambling to figure out how the virus affects pregnant women. Two of its closest relative — SARS and MERS — have known to cause pregnancy loss, including miscarriage and stillbirth.
Viral infections, in general, put pregnant women at risk, who might be at risk than the general population. High fevers during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of certain birth defects.
As for the new coronavirus, little is known. "Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers," the CDC explained.
In the absence of enough evidence, some experts recommend a cesarean section and isolation — separating the infant from the mother — are crucial to keeping the infant from contracting COVID-19 during or after birth.
To avoid spreading the infection to the child, the CDC said that a mother with confirmed COVID-19 should take all possible precautions, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while breastfeeding.
Besides, experts have not found traces of the virus in patient samples, including amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, breast milk, and throat swabs in the early stages of pregnancy —suggesting that the mother may not transfer the virus to the child in the womb.