As the world scrambles to find a way to beat the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare staff around the world are doing their best to care for every COVID-19 patient. But, one veteran nurse in the United States has found a way to know who is the sickest and needs immediate care just from one key symptom: puffy, red eyes.
The Key Symptom of Coronavirus Disease
According to a report by CNN, Chelsey Ernest, a nurse from the Life Care Center located in Kirkland, Washington, along with her colleagues, believes that the eyes have become the one important sign of the novel coronavirus disease.
"It's something that I witnessed in all of them (the patients). They have, like ... allergy eyes. The white part of the eye is not red. It's more like they have red eye shadow on the outside of their eyes," Earnest said.
To back her up, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has already sent an alert to its members that COVID-19 has reportedly caused conjunctivitis.
Among the signs of conjunctivitis is the reddening of the eyes as well as the area around it.
The AAO has already issued a warning to its members to protect their eyes, mouth, and nose when they check patients that have conjunctivitis along with other symptoms associated with coronavirus, including fever, cough, and rapid breathing.
Using the Eyes
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a list of symptoms linked to COVID-19, but it's not all-inclusive and stresses the common symptoms such as high fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing.
CDC is yet to add eye problems to the list.
Although Earnest and her colleagues track those symptoms too, staff at Life Care Center, as well as doctors in a nearby hospital, have been using the eyes as the biggest sign that the virus has already struck.
The nurse even said that a medical control physician only asked whether the patient had red eyes, and when she answered yes, they were ready to find a bed for the patient.
Earnest also said: "We've had patients that just had the red eyes as the only symptom that we saw and go to the hospital and pass away."
Bill Gates on Coronavirus
In other news, billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates believes that the best way the U.S. can stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country is to "quite dramatically" increase testing for the virus while maintaining social distancing for the next six to ten weeks.
Gates said that the country needs to raise their level and prioritization of testing so that "we take the medical problem and stop it before there's a large number of deaths."
The Microsoft co-founder said in an interview with CNN that emphasizing testing and a national shutdown would be the best way to get to the peak.
Dr. Karen Edwards, a professor and department chair at the University of California Irvine Epidemiology Department, also said that the U.S. needs to do testing on a massive scale.
Edwards believes that the current number of COVID-19 patients in the U.S. is not accurate and only a "drop in the bucket."