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Post-mortem results show virus remains in COVID-19 patient bodies, damages immune system

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BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) — Chinese research groups have conducted autopsies on 29 COVID-19 patient bodies and found the novel coronavirus remains in their lungs after death, a Chinese expert said Tuesday.

Autopsies also showed severe damage to the patients’ immune system, which could be “a very important factor” in their deaths, said Wang Guiqiang, an infectious disease expert with the Peking University First Hospital, at a press conference in Beijing.

Wang added that the infection not only causes severe pathological changes in the patients’ lungs, but also results in secretions in small bronchial tubes, which makes it harder to breathe.

Diagnosis

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and you’ve been exposed to the virus, contact your doctor. Tell him or her if you’ve traveled to any areas with ongoing community spread of COVID-19 according to CDC and WHO. Also let your doctor know if you’ve had close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Your doctor may determine whether to conduct tests for COVID-19 based on your signs and symptoms. To decide whether to conduct tests for COVID-19, he or she may also consider whether you have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or traveled to or lived in any areas with ongoing community spread of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

To test for COVID-19, your doctor may take samples, including a sample of saliva (sputum), a nasal swab and a throat swab, to send to a lab for testing.

Treatment

Currently, no antiviral medication is recommended to treat COVID-19. Treatment is directed at relieving symptoms and may include:

  • Pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
  • Cough syrup or medication
  • Rest
  • Fluid intake

If your doctor thinks you can be treated at home, he or she may give you special instructions, such as to isolate yourself as much as possible from family and pets while you’re sick and to stay home for a period of time. If you’re very ill, you may need to be treated in the hospital.

Coping and support

You may feel stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. You may feel fear and anxiety or have trouble sleeping.

Here are some tips that can help you cope with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Avoid watching or reading news about COVID-19that makes you feel anxious.
  • Limit reading or watching news about COVID-19to once or twice a day.
  • Get the facts about COVID-19 and share them with others. Check reputable sites such as CDC and WHO for information.
  • Take care of yourself — eat healthy, get enough sleep and get regular exercise. Consider deep breathing, stretching and meditation exercises.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Do something you enjoy, such as reading a book, watching a movie or going on a walk.
  • Keep connected with family and friends. Share your feelings with them.
  • Aim to be positive and optimistic.
  • Show appreciation for health care workers who care for those with COVID-19 in your community.

If stress is affecting your daily life after several days, contact your doctor. He or she may suggest that you talk to a mental health professional.

Preparing for your appointment

You may start by seeing your primary care doctor. Or you may be referred immediately to a doctor trained in treating infectious diseases. If you think you have COVID-19, tell your doctor or clinic before coming in. The doctor and medical team can then:

  • Contact infection prevention and control and public health officials
  • Prepare to move you to a room quickly
  • Have a mask ready for you

Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

Preparing for an appointment

When you make the appointment, ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Your recent travels, including any international travels
  • Key personal information, including major stresses, recent life changes and family medical history
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including the doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you’re given. Avoid bringing more than one or two people.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • How likely is it that the new coronavirus is causing my symptoms?
  • What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What course of action do you recommend?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions, such as:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Where have you traveled recently?
  • Who have you been in close contact with?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
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