One of the scariest things about the novel coronavirus is probably that so little is known about it. The virus has already infected 27,45,571 people worldwide and killed 1,91,792 of them. All we know is that its symptoms can be similar to the flu–fever, sore throat, dry cough–and that it can be mild for some and fatal for others. While scientists are still working a cure for the virus–from vaccines to drugs to medical therapies–new symptoms and complications seem to crop up every few weeks.
Last month, scientists noted a new symptom besides the regular flu-like symptoms–loss of smell and taste. Now, dermatologists in Europe and America have come across another worrying new symptom that affects children and young adults. In March, some dermatologists in Italy found an inflammation of toes and feet of those suffering from COVID-19.
According to doctors, the condition is similar to frostbite–in which blood vessels in the toes get aggravated inflammation and toes tend to have a serious spasm. This condition is common among people living in harsh winters in polar and sub-polar regions.
Doctors in Italy nicknamed the symptom ‘COVID Toes’ because dermatologists found it to be most prevalent in areas with a high concentration of COVID-19 patients in Italy. Now, the same symptom is being reported from areas severely hit by the pandemic in the United States. Doctors from the American Academy of Dermatology are now recommending coronavirus tests for kids visiting them with ‘COVID Toes’.
The worrying part is that these children did not display any other symptoms of COVID-19 in Italy. According to experts, the contributing factor that is leading to the rapid spread of the virus is that 80% of people are asymptomatic. These asymptomatic people then go on to unknowingly pass on their infection to other individuals, many of them elderly and immuno-compromised.
So what is our best plan of action to keep ourselves safe before a vaccine hits the market? “Along with rapid testing, we must ramp up polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect active infection and do it at the local level to speed up results, so that there is no lag in the containment response,” said a former healthy ministry official.
And for people who have not made any contact with a COVID-19 positive patient, the only protection against silent spreaders is wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing, at least until a vaccine is developed, say doctors.
So listen to your doctors’ advice, and keep yourself and your loved ones safe!
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