About nine months leaving with Corona virus disease, some still feel the virus is malaria and only hyped by politicians to scam the masses. Answers to major concerns of citizens were discussed in this exclusive interview with Mrs. Funmilola Siyanbade, a registered Nurse educator with Master’s Degree in Public Health, MPH and also the vice-Principal Academics of the School of Nursing, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State.
Q-1: What is Malaria? What is Coronavirus? Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite; it is an endemic disease. Corona viruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses such as respiratory diseases and general feeling of being unwell. But the recent strain of Corona virus called Covid-19 is a new strain, thus it is called novel Corona virus since this particular strain has not been seen or identified before. The virus responsible for it is SARS-COV2. (SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Q-2: What are the symptoms of Malaria? What are the symptoms of Coronavirus? The symptoms of Malaria are: Fever, headache, general body weakness/pain, chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches etc. While COVID-19 symptoms include: Fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, feeling of tiredness. Recently, the following have been added: inability to perceive smell and inability to taste.
Q-3: Is there any link between Malaria and Coronavirus? Malaria and corona virus disease (COVID -19) are two different disease conditions with two quite different causative organisms. While malaria is caused by a parasite, COVID-19 is caused by a virus.
Q-4: How can we differentiate between Malaria and Coronavirus symptoms? Differentiating between malaria and COVID-19 will be based on the presenting symptoms by the patient and majorly on laboratory testing. A travel history to affected areas can also give a red flag for diagnosis.
Q-5: Is it true that Coronavirus is just a severe malaria, as claimed by notable personalities in Nigeria? No, this is not true, severe malaria and COVID-19 are not the same. The management and treatment for the two are not also the same.
Q-6: Why is Coronavirus more dreaded than Malaria even though Malaria also has a very high mortality rate? I believe this is so for the following reasons:
- The virus causing COVID-19 is more lethal and highly infectious.
- The mode of transmission of this virus (through droplets ) makes it very easy and quick for people to be infected. Unlike malaria where you have to be bitten by a female anopheles mosquito that already has the parasite before you can come down with the disease.
- Up till now, there is no known cure for COVID-19 where as the treatment for malaria is well known.
- The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are more serious and deadly.
Q-7: If Coronavirus is not severe Malaria, why is it not killing Africans as much as other Countries, especially the Western World? I will not agree with you that it is not killing Africans, because in some sister African countries, the mortality rate is quite high. However, it could be that we are not testing enough, so there might be missed cases.
Q-8: Also, if Coronavirus is not Malaria, why are we using drugs like Hydroxy-chloroquine? Even Madagascar’s COVID-Organic herbal remedy used in managing COVID-19 was extracted from Artemesia plant (an antimalarial plant) You see, malaria shares some symptoms with COVID-19, so if some of these claims have worked, then so be it, until a clear treatment guideline /management is officially given.
Q-9: If Coronavirus is different from Malaria, how can Nigeria prevent her health care system from being overwhelmed by surging cases? I believe it is pertinent to ensure that the health care system is made up to standard. The health care facilities should be equipped, and adequate manpower should be ensured.
I’m also of the opinion that the current collaboration with other Ministries, especially the Ministry of Information should be strengthened, so that the populace are continually reminded of all they need to do to stay safe, for reduction in the number of new infections.
Q-10: Is there any treatment for Coronavirus? If Yes, what is it/ are they? If No, what are being used for the recoveries of about 42,439 discharged cases in Nigeria so far? There is no known treatment for corona virus disease. A good percentage of the recovered cases were treated based on the symptoms they presented. According to the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, most of them recovered because their immunity was high. So personal immunity plays a role here.
Q-11: How can we manage Malaria and Corona virus disease? There are national guidelines for the treatment or management of malaria and COVID-19, so I’ll advise that if anyone feels sick or unwell, he/ she should inform his/ her healthcare provider for help.
While giving Nigerians a word of advice on the pandemic, the public health expert, who has been in the healthcare system for about 25 years, noted that the Coronavirus disease is not a death sentence, “we have seen records of people who have recovered both globally and in our Country. So, if you feel unwell, seek medical help.”
She also implored everyone to abide by all guidelines put in place to avoid being infected.
- Ensure that you make use of facemask.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water or make use of alcohol base hand sanitizer.
- Keep physical distance with others when outside your home.
- We must take responsibilities for our health and stay safe.
- If you do not have any genuine reason to go out, stay at home.