There are some possible complications of COVID-19 but the most serious complication is a type of pneumonia that’s been called 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia (NCIP).
Results from a 2020 study of 138 people admitted into hospitals in Wuhan, China with NCIP found that 26 percent of those admitted had severe cases and needed to be treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). About 4.3 percent of these people who were admitted to the ICU died from this type of pneumonia.
Possible complications of COVID-19
So far, NCIP is the only complication specifically linked to the 2019 coronavirus. But researchers have seen the following complications in people who have developed a coronavirus:
• acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
• irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
• cardiovascular shock
• severe muscle pain (myalgia)
• heart damage or heart attack
How are coronaviruses diagnosed?
The 2019 coronavirus can be diagnosed similarly to other viral infections: using a blood, saliva, or tissue sample. In the United States, only the CDC currently has the ability to diagnose a COVID-19 infection.
Talk to your doctor right away if you think you have a coronavirus infection, especially if you’ve traveled to China in the past 14 days. Your doctor will speak to local public health officials to provide guidance on whether testing for the virus is needed.
A lab technician will either draw a sample of your blood with a needle or use a cotton swab to take a small sample of saliva or respiratory secretions from your nose or the back of your throat.
The sample is then sent to a testing facility to confirm the presence of viral material or antibodies that respond to the virus.
What treatments are available?
There’s currently no treatment specifically approved for the 2019 coronavirus, and no cure for an infection, although treatments and vaccines are currently under study.
Instead, treatment focuses on managing symptoms as the virus runs its course.
Seek immediate medical help if you think you have COVID-19. Your doctor will recommend treatment for any symptoms or complications that develop.
Other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS do have vaccines and treatments. Some treatments for these similar viruses include:
• antiviral or retroviral medications
• breathing support like mechanical ventilation
• steroids to reduce lung swelling
• blood plasma transfusions