COVID-19 – Popular by the name CoronaVirus
If there is one thing that has taken the world by storm these days, it is the outbreak of CORONA virus. An infection originated in the Wuhan city of China, spread over to the neighboring Asian countries, and has now reached to the far continents of America, Europe and Australia. With more than 100,000 confirmed cases across 104 countries and territories, of which around 7,100 classified as serious, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, in February 2020.
The disease itself is named after a virus called SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME CORONAVIRUS 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also know as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which is closely related to the virus that was responsible for SARS. It mainly affects the respiratory tract of the patient and can spread from human to human by coughing/ sneezing through respiratory droplets like influenza and flu.
With no antiviral vaccine/ treatment in existence, prevention is the only way left for us to combat this viral outbreak. But questions remain inadequately answered. Common Questions such as – What preventive measures should be undertaken by the general public? What if someone tests positive with 2019-nCoV? Most important of all – What are the guidelines for those who have a patient of CORONAVIRUS 2 in their vicinity? To address such questions and more about this dangerous viral infection, read on.
What is corona virus?
Coronavirus are a family of pathogens that are ubiquitous in human and animals. In humans, such viruses can cause various respiratory infections ranging from common cold to fatal diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME CORONAVIRUS 2 or COVID-19. In some cases they may cause diarrhea among children and infants as well. Primarily such infections become active during winters, and also sometimes during the seasons of spring and fall.
In December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia like cases was reported in the Wuhan city of Hubei province in People’s Republic of China, which was caused by one such pathogen. This pathogen was very similar to virus that was responsible for the widespread of SARS in 2002 and was named as SARS-CoV2. It is medium-sized enveloped positive-stranded RNA virus which has a crown-like appearance in electron micrographs; hence it is also called CORONAVIRUS. Since all the initially reported cases in Wuhan were traced back to the seafood and meat market of Wuhan, it was derived that the corona virus has zoonotic origins.
It all started in the early days of December 2019, with a few reported cases in Wuhan; a city that is known to be the transport hub of China. Clubbed with the timing of Chinese new year migration, the disease spread over to the other provinces of China, by the mid of January 2020. Gradually, other countries like Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Nepal and the United States also started reporting similar cases.
In the view that the severity of this infection in some cases replicated that of SARS-CoV, on February 11th, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International concern. After, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2002 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in 2012, COVID-19 is the third corona virus to emerge in the human population in the recent times.
As on March 8th 2020, more than 109,695 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across 104 countries and territories of which 6,125 cases are deemed to be serious. The total numbers of causalities till date have been reported to be around 3,802; out of which 3098 were reported from China and 704 from the other affected countries with increasing numbers of cases like in Italy, S. Korea, Iran, North America, Australia, San Marino, Spain, Iraq, The United Kingdom and others.
By the end of February 2020, a significant drop in number of new cases was seen in China, however increasing number of new cases of COVID-19 had started emerging from Italy, Iran and South Korea. On the brighter side, more than 60,960 people worldwide have successfully recovered from this pandemic.
You can also track the numbers from link :- Track the Coronavirus Spread
The incubation period for COVID-19 is estimated to be between 1-14 days with an estimated median of 5-6 days as per World Health Organisation (WHO). During this period the patient may develop common symptoms like fever, tiredness and dry cough. As all these symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of common cold and flu, the only differentiating symptoms are dry cough and acute respiratory distress.
Since SARS-CoV-2 directly affects the lungs of an infected person, it results in the development of breathing difficulties for the patients. Some patients also complained about having nasal congestion, aches & pains, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhoea, but these symptoms are less frequent.
There were also some reported cases in which, patient remain asymptomatic in spite of being infected and showed no sign of being unwell. While in general COVID-19 patients show only these mild symptoms, in rare cases they may escalate to pneumonia as well as multiple-organ failure.
Treatment and Prevention
Despite the ongoing researches, currently no antiviral vaccine or treatment has been established to combat the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV2), so all the efforts of healthcare professionals are aimed at managing the symptoms, supportive therapy and controlling the spread of COVID-19. SARS-CoV2 primarily spreads through the respiratory droplets produced while coughing and sneezing by the infected person. The time period between the exposure and the onset of the symptoms has been observed to vary in between 1-14 days; hence following are the few preventive measures suggested by major health bodies:
- Restrict the human to human spread of the coronavirus by following the basic hygiene practices like washing hands, using tissues while sneezing and coughing, careful disposal of nasal secretion, etc. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is recommended. Alternatively, an alcohol based hand sanitizer may be used with minimum 60% alcohol.
- Maintain distance from people coughing and sneezing and don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands as precautionary measures.
- If you don’t have tissues handy, don’t forget to cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow while coughing.
Ways of Major Outbreak Prevention
- Identify the patients and quarantine them early, in order to interrupt human to human spread of the SARS-CoV2 and thus reducing the secondary infections among close contacts and health care workers, preventing transmission amplification events.
- Anyone complaining of excessive sneezing and coughing could be a suspected virus carrier, must wear surgical mask and seek early clinical assistance.
- Masks must also be worn by people attending to people with suspected infection; however, general public without exposure to the virus need not wear them.
- People who suspect being infected must keep an eye on their symptoms and self-quarantine for fourteen days.
- Surface disinfectants play a vital role in infection control, since corona viruses are expected to survive for one or more days after drying on cloth, plastic or steel surfaces exposed to most people. So, visibly dirty surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected in households and community settings as a best practice.
How to Control the Spread
Public health measures by Govt. health authorities are very important. These include quick response times for detection, diagnosis and management of suspect cases, discovery and follow up of the contacts, infection prevention and containment in health care facilities, implementation of control measures and advisories for travelers. Mass awareness campaigns must play their part communicating critical risks and events, preventive measures, dispelling myths and false information to restore confidence in the population at large.
WHO has endeavored to tackle the demon of corona virus head on by analyzing the mysteries regarding clinical severity, extent of transmission and infection of virus, exploring treatment alternatives and hastening the development of diagnostic measures, therapeutics and anti-viral vaccines.
On a global level, public health response measures by Governments have stepped up to institute international travel restrictions, quarantines and advisories. World-wide, airports and train stations have setup screening measures such as temperature checks and health declaration forms to isolate suspects.
Travelers from high risk countries are being screened separately and their movement through the airport being regulated through different walkways. Many countries have issued advisories cautioning against travel to regions with increasing community transmission of Coronavirus like China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Malaysia. Schools across the world have been closed for close to 300 million children, including all schools and several universities in China, Iran, Japan, and Italy. Many offices in countries with high infection rates have been closed and employees asked to work from home or remote locations sustaining minimum business operations.
Myths or unexplained rumors
Notwithstanding the enormity of risks and threats of coronavirus, staying away from the rumors and misinformation circulated on the social media, is another crucial step that needs to be followed to avoid the panic around SARS-CoV2. Here we enlist few myths regarding COVID-19, doing the rounds on social media:
Thermal scanners can detect Covid-19:
Thermal scanners alone may not be reliable in detecting the COVID-19 as they are effective in detecting fever only. Sometimes the COVID-19 patient remains asymptotic, or it may take him a few days to develop fever despite being infected with SARS-CoV2. Also it may classify a person as COVID-19 suspect, while he might be having a fever due to other reasons like cold and flu.
Ultraviolet disinfection lamps and hand dryers can kill Covid-19 virus:
- They are in no way effective in killing the COVID-19 virus. In fact excessive exposure to UV lamps can result in skin irritation. Washing hands or using an alcohol based sanitizer is the most effective way of getting rid of this Corona virus.
- Vaccines can prevent against corona virus:
Many people are falsely claiming that the pneumonia vaccines like pneumococcal & haemophilus influenza typeB (Hib) work against the prevention of COVID-19 virus. No vaccine has yet been developed to combat against corona virus although the researches are still on. However taking vaccination against respiratory illness is encouraged.
- Saline water can cure COVID-19:
Rinsing the nose excessively with saline water is not a cure for COVID-19. It may help in treatment of common cold but not COVID-19. Same can be said about eating garlic.
COVID-19 only affects the elderly people:
- This is another myth that is going viral on social media. People of all ages are equally susceptible to the corona virus; however it has been observed that people who already have any serious medical conditions like diabetes or asthma are falling severely ill and are less likely to recover.
- Pets can spread COVID-19 virus:
There is no evidence to this date that pets at home can aid in spreading of COVID-19. In fact, they can be a great company for the infected or those susceptible to infection and have isolated themselves at home.
As the world gears itself to battle against this newly found corona virus (SARSCoV2), the health bodies have established that around 80% of the cases have recovered from COVID-19, without undergoing any special treatment. Only those cases which have a history of medical conditions like diabetes, respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, etc. are likely to develop serious illness after being affected by SARS-CoV2.
Most of the deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported to be of the people who were either older than 60 years or had some existing medical condition. The overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is found to be lesser than Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Although victims and families, economy and businesses across the globe (specially in China) will take time to recover from the loss caused by COVID-19, we can certainly combat it without being panic stricken, by following prescribed preventive measures, maintaining good hygiene and spreading awareness among the masses.
Note :- Information shared above is according to the data collected at the time of publishing the article through online journals and reputed sources like WHO, and many government run websites. The info shared is best of our knowledge possible.
Aafiya is a health and wellness enthusiast. She utilizes her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to.
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