The countries around the globe are presently struggling to stop the coronavirus pandemic which has taken the lives of so many people globally and lakhs are affected with Coronavirus. Till March 30, 2020, more than 36,000 people worldwide have lost their lives due to COVID-19, the most highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus while more than 7,66,000 people have been tested positive for COVID-19 and this increases every day. Let’s get to know this better for our better.
What is Coronavirus?
According to the WHO, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that results in causing illnesses. It starts from the common cold to more severe diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). These viruses transmitted from animals to people. For instance, SARS was transmitted from civet cats while MERS moved to humans from a type of camel. There are many kinds of coronaviruses that are circulating within the animals and have not yet infected humans. The word “coronavirus” comes from the Latin word corona which means crown or halo. When seen under an electron microscope, this virus looks like it is surrounded by a solar corona. The novel coronavirus; was first identified by Chinese authorities during the first week of January 2020 and later it was named as SARS-CoV-2. This is a new kind of strain that earlier was not identified among humans. Though this type of virus is new to the world, so even the scientists don’t know much about it, only the bitter truth is that it gets transferred from human-to-human.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
According to the WHO, the common symptoms of this virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties and in severe cases; it results to pneumonia, and multiple organ failure and sometimes even death as well. As per the current estimates, the incubation period (the time between infection and the onset of symptoms) varies from one to 14 days. The people who are highly infected with this kind of virus show symptoms within five to six days. However, in rare cases the infected patients can also be asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t show any signs of this virus despite having the virus in their systems.
Many people who are infected with this virus start experiencing mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without any need of special treatment while the older people and the ones who already have some medical problems like cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, etc are a higher risk to develop serious illness. The best and the most practical way to prevent and slow down transmission is by staying well informed about this virus, the causes, and spread of the diseases. The people across the world are advised to protect themselves and others from an infection must wash their hands regularly with the help of alcohol-based sanitizers. Since the COVID-19 virus mainly spreads through the droplets of saliva that came out from the nose especially when an infected person coughs or sneezes. So it is important that people start practicing respiratory etiquette and use a mask to cover their nose.
How deadly is it?
Till now, March 2020, more than 24,000 people have died due to COVID-19 which is much more than the toll of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which also originated in China. SARS killed almost 9 percent of infected people, 800 people across the world, and more than 300 in China died due to this virus. MERS though did not spread globally but was more dangerous as it killed almost one-third of the people infected with it.
We can say that COVID-19 is more deadly as compared to the previous viruses as it spread quickly as compared to SARS in terms of total numbers, while the mortality rate remains quite lower at approximately 3-4 percent- according to the WHO. COVID-19 which originated in China quickly spread to other parts of the world as well, and since March 16, more cases were registered outside mainland China than registered within the country, which results in quickly spread of the pandemic across the world. The virus that spread from China to the different parts of the world prompting was soon labeled as a pandemic by the WHO. Human-to-human transmissions were confirmed post more cases started reported with no apparent link to China.
What is being done to stop it from spreading?
The scientists across the world are struggling hard to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 but it is predicted that the vaccine will not be available for mass distribution before 2021. Though due to the growing number of cases globally, the countries look for a series of sweeping measures so that the spread of coronavirus can be reduced greatly which include nationwide lockdowns, bans on gatherings, closure of schools, colleges and other educational institutions, restaurants, bars and sports clubs, in addition to urging the employees to work from home till the spread of this virus gets reduced. Even all the international airlines have cancelled their flights all over the world and even many countries have posed restrictions on the non-citizens from entering their territories, and several more countries have evacuated their citizens from abroad.
Unfortunatelyat this point of time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, doctors across the world are involved in various ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will provide all the updated information as soon as clinical findings become available for the treatment.
Few protective measures to stop the spreading of coronavirus
People must remain educated about the latest information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available on the WHO website and by contacting the national and local public health authorities. Most of the people who get infected experience mild illness and recover, but in case they have a strong immune system, they start recovering on their own while others need medical care. All the people are urged to take care of their health and protect themselves by doing the following things:
Wash your hands regularly
By washing the hands regularly using an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water kills the virus that might be present on your hands.
Start maintaining social distancing
People need to maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between themselves and others with whom they are talking to, especially the ones cough or sneeze. When someone coughs or sneezes, the small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth that contain virus comes out and infect the other person as well. In case you are standing or sitting too close to the one who sneezes, then there are higher chances that you might also breathe in the droplets, which might include the COVID-19 virus as well in case the person coughing has the disease.
You must not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
The reason for this is the fact that our hands touch many surfaces which in turn increases the chances of picking up the viruses as well. In case our hands are contaminated, then the virus can be transferred to our eyes, nose or mouth from our hands and will enter our body as well.
Maintain respiratory hygiene
You must follow good respiratory hygiene and advise all the people near you to practice the same. This can be done by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue at the time you cough or sneeze and must dispose of the used tissue immediately post using it. By adopting a good respiratory hygiene plan, you can stay protected and can help others as well in staying protected from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
In case you have fever, cough and difficulty while breathing, then take medical assistance early and if you witness these symptoms, then you must stay inside your home. Also, follow the advice given to you from your local health authority as they stay informed about the recent updates. By getting in touch with them you can get the right health facility which in turn will protect you to get infected from this virus and will also lower the chances of spreading the viruses and other infections to others as well.
Follow the guidance outlined above.
- Stay at home if you think you are not well, even with mild symptoms such as headache and a slight runny nose, you must self-quarantine.
- Don’t make any contact with others and in fact, seek medical assistance at the earliest.
- Call your health adviser and tell them about your recent travel or contact with travelers.
- This way you can prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
Origin of the virus?
The experts across the world are still trying hard to determine the origin of the virus, which started from a seafood market in Wuhan, China where wildlife was also traded illegally. On February 7, Chinese researchers researched and revealed that the virus might have spread from an infected animal species to humans through illegally-trafficked pangolins in Wuhan city. It was believed that either bats or snakes are the possible sources of the virus which later got transmitted to humans as well.
Coronavirus is considered as the global emergency now
There is no denying to the fact that this outbreak is a global health emergency. The WHO announced on March 11 that is a global emergency and declared this crisis as a pandemic. Since it is an international health alert so all the countries around the world are advised to coordinate their response under the guidance of the WHO. Since the past 2005, there have been five global health emergencies in the world which include swine flu in 2009, polio in 2014, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016 and Ebola again in 2019.
Do people who smoke are at more risk from coronavirus?
The people who smoke are a high risk of COVID-19 as compared to non-smokers. According to the European Union agency for disease control, Smoking can make people more susceptible to serious complications from this deadly infection, as compared to non-smokers. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention included smokers as the potentially most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the smokers have also appeared to be more susceptible to breathing complications caused by the disease, are suggested to self-quarantine or seek medical help at the earliest. The agency mentioned in a study conducted by the Chinese doctors by taking a sample of 99 patients affected by the coronavirus. According to the results, the acute smokers were at higher risk of dying as compared to the elderly people.
According to the agency, smoking is considered as a heightened activity in the lungs of an enzyme, which in turn increases the chances of getting infected with COVID-19. Also, any kind of activity of ACE2, or angiotensin converting enzyme 2, also increases with age and with some kinds of hypertension treatment – both risk factors – the ECDC said.
Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
1. What are the common signs of COVID-19?
A few of the common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, tiredness, and dry cough though some patients also experience aches, nasal congestion, watery nose, sore throat or diarrhea. Some people get infected to this virus but don’t show any kind of symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Almost 80% people recover from the disease without any kind of special treatment and only 1 out of every 6 people who get infected becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. The chances of developing serious issues is higher in older people, and the ones who already have some kind of medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
2. How does COVID-19 spread?
People can easily get infected with COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease is spread mainly from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread in case a COVID-19 patient coughs or exhales. The droplets that came from the nose or mouth of the infected person land on objects and surfaces around the person and someone else touches the same objects or surfaces, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth, they also get infected from this virus.
That is why people are advised to stay at home or stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
3. Is the virus that causes COVID-19 can be passed through the air?
According to the studies, COVID-19 is mainly transmitted by getting in contact with respiratory droplets of the infected person rather than through the air.
4. Can CoVID-19 be transferred from a person who has no symptoms?
The main reason of the spread of this virus is through respiratory droplets which are expelled by someone who cough. The risk of getting infected with COVID-19 from the person who has no symptoms is quite low. However, many people who are infected with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms which most of the times happen at the early stages of the disease only. So it is possible that someone with mild cough can transmit the virus to others as well without knowing that they are suffering from COVID-19.
5. What can be done to protect ourselves from the spread of disease?
- Develop an habit of regularly and thoroughly cleaning your hands using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap as well.
- Try to maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance while talking to someone who is coughing or sneezing.
- You must not touch your eyes, nose and mouth as our hands touch many surfaces and can easily pick up viruses. So wash your hands before touching your eyes so that you don’t fall sick.
- Be sure that you and the people around you have adopted a good respiratory hygiene.
- Stay home in case you are not well and adhere to the directions given to you by your local health authority.
- Stay updated about the latest information on COVID-19. Also don’t make unnecessary travels to places, especially in case you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
Are masks useful to protect?
People should wear mask only in case they are ill and have COVID-19 symptoms especially at the time of coughing. You must dispose the face mask immediately after using it once. However, in case you are not ill but and is looking after someone who is ill then you don’t need to wear a mask. Since there is already a shortage of masks, so WHO appeals people to use masks wisely.
The best effective measure to protect yourself and others against COVID-is by washing your hands, covering your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and by maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
How long is the incubation period for this virus?
Here the word “incubation period” means the total time between catching the virus and starting developing symptoms of the disease. According to the experts, the incubation period for COVID-19 varies from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.
Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source?
The Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are more common in animals and occasionally, people get infected with these kinds of viruses that might spread to other people as well. For example, SARS-CoV virus spread due to civet cats’ and MERS-CoV was spread by dromedary camels.
The best way to protect yourself from these kinds of viruses is stop visiting live animal markets, and avoid getting in contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
Is there anything which one must stop to control the spread of virus?
The following measures are not effective against controlling COVID-2019 and must be stopped immediately:
- Stop smoking
- Stop wearing multiple masks
- Take the antibiotics which are prescribed by the doctors
- If you have fever, cough or difficulty while breathing then you must get medical care at the earliest so that the chances of developing a more severe infection can be reduced
How did the first human SARS-CoV-2 infections occur?
The first human cases of COVID-19 came into limelight from Wuhan City, China in December 2019. At this stage, it is not possible to determine how humans in China were got infected with SARS-CoV-2.
How long will COVID-19 last?
Presently it would be difficult to answer this question as it depend on a range of factors, from how long people continue to isolate and avoid group gatherings to the availability of effective drugs or vaccine that can cure the patients. However, Hubei province which was the epicenter of China’s coronavirus spared is slowly coming on the track started and people are trying to return to their normal lives post two- months of lockdown.
When will the economy return to normal?
According to the experts at the International Monetary Fund, the pandemic might cause a global recession in 2020 which can prove to be worse than the one triggered in 2008. The depth of a recession, how long it will last and how much time it will take to recover are still not clear now and as per the economists, it totally depends on how long the lockdowns would last, around a quarter or much more as presently almost all the countries are lockdown.