Coronavirus treatment and care: FAQs

No specified treatment exists for coronavirus infection to date, except in China, which recently approved the use of an anti viral drug called Favilavir. People may get better with proper rest and care. Symptomatic relief can be provided by over-the-counter (OTC) fever, cough, flu, and pain-relieving drugs and proper hydration of the body by sufficient intake of fluids.

Certain antiretroviral drugs are being studied for the potential treatment of the infection. Fapilavir, an antiviral drug, was recently approved for the treatment of coronavirus by China, following a clinical trial in 70 patients. Researchers are also working to develop vaccines to develop immunity against the coronavirus.

Current standard of care for coronavirus depends on the severity of the disease. Symptomatic treatment is being provided in mild cases. Cases with more severe condition require treatment with optimised supportive care such as oxygen therapy and close monitoring. For patients with severe infection, delivery of intensive care such as safe mechanical ventilation and resuscitation is indicated.

HIV drugs such as Kaletra and LOPIMUNE (lopinavir and ritonavir) that are approved protease inhibitors are being repurposed to potentially treat the coronavirus infection.

Currently, there are no proven therapeutics for coronavirus and the existing drugs are being tested for their activity against the virus and can be used off-label or for compassionate use or in clinical trial on higher regulatory and ethical standards. These drugs are also part of other protocols that are used for MERS-CoV, but they are not approved and are in research stage.

China is carrying out randomised clinical trials on Gilead's remdesivir and expects result shortly.

No vaccines have been approved for coronavirus as yet, while few are being studied for development.

Precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission from mother to infant during feeding through respiratory droplets and direct contact. UNICEF recommends the feeding mothers to wear a mask while feeding and wash hands before and after feedings. Care should also be taken to avoid spreading of infection indirectly through contaminated surfaces by regularly cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces. Mothers who are too ill are advised to express milk and feed the child through a clean cup or spoon rather than breast feeding.

No report on the effect of COVID-19 on breast milk is available currently. The UNICEF recommends coronavirus-infected mothers to breastfeed after consulting with healthcare providers to understand the unknown risks.

Fapilavir is the first antiretroviral drug approved for coronavirus treatment in China
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