The recent outbreak of a new coronavirus pandemic originating from China’s Wuhan province has infected more than 1 lakh people worldwide ever since the first case was reported in December 2019. China and neighboring Asian countries are the worst affected by the outbreak which is believed to be caused by a new kind of coronavirus named n-COV 2019.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which are responsible for ailments as meagre as common cold but carry the potential to cause deadly diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which have claimed several lives in the last two decades. First identified in the 1960s, the virus gets its name from its crown like shape when observed under a microscope.
Coronaviruses generally infect animals and in some cases are transmutable from animals to humans. The n-COV 2019 is a new kind of coronavirus which is highly contagious. Within a timespan of just a little over 2 months, the virus has spread from China to over 110 countries around the globe. World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the situation an emergency and keeping the threat in mind, most countries are on high alert. Over 56 million people have been quarantined and health advisories have been issued. Airports are screening every single passenger and trying to control the outbreak.
Animated map of confirmed COVID-19 cases from 12 January to 29 February 2020
With Coronavirus spreading rapidly and no vaccine clearly in sight, awareness about its symptoms and methods of prevention is of vital importance as the only safeguard against getting infected.
According to WHO, the primary signs & symptoms of the infection include:
1. Common cold like symptoms
2. Runny nose, headache, sore throat, and watery eyes
3. Coughing, fever, shortness of breath
4. Infections in sinus, upper throat
If above symptoms persist, they must be checked out with the local physician who might prescribe generic over the counter drugs for curing common cold and fever. If the primary symptoms are not checked with a medical professional, they may develop into serious respiratory illness or cause other problems (listed below) and even turn out to be fatal.
1. Pneumonia and respiratory disorders
2. Diarrhea and vomiting
3. Acute respiratory disorders
4. Renal failure and severe pneumonia
The incubation period, which is the time between contracting the virus and the manifestation of the first symptoms is between 2 to 14 days for the coronavirus. The n-COV 2019 mostly affects people who are 40 or older or the ones with a weak immunity but everyone is at risk, if exposed. Out of those infected, 30-40% people develop serious symptoms while the mortality rate so far is 3%. According to the latest reports, 2019-nCOV has claimed over 3200 lives in China which surpasses the SARS outbreak earlier from 2003, which killed over 350 people in China.
As of now, there is no certified vaccine or medicine which can be used to prevent the infection. The only way of treatment is supportive care by using over the counter common cold medicines and painkiller drugs for the less serious cases and intensive care in a hospital for the more serious cases. More effective than the common cold medication is a set of preventive practices which will keep the virus at bay and keep one out of risk.
Here’s a list of recommended practices/do’s to follow until a vaccine or cure is discovered and made available in the market.
1. Wash your hands multiple times everyday with soap for minimum 20 seconds.
2. Keep an alcohol based sanitizer handy.
3. Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing.
4. Drink fluids, take plenty of rest and stay indoors.
5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects. Ex: doorknob, handles etc.
6. Keep visiting your local physician regularly.
7. Wear a mask and bathe twice a day.
8. Keep yourself updated and informed about the latest on the Coronavirus outbreak.
The current scenario clearly demands an alertness and hygiene among the people to limit the spreading of the virus. Simple precautions can help one avoid major complications and fatality.
You already know what to do to stay safe and in case of infection. Here’s a supplementary list of don’ts or what to avoid to stay safe from the Wuhan coronavirus.
1. Avoid close contact with infected people.
2. Avoid crowded places and markets selling meat products.
3. Avoid touching eyes or face with unwashed hands.
4. Avoid meat, poultry or seafood products for a few weeks.
5. Do not plan travels, if sick.
6. Avoid contact with animals.
According to the latest news reports doing rounds on the internet, a vaccine can be expected to come up by April as few animal trials and early-stage human trials are being conducted at premier medical institutions across the world. Before any conclusive info on vaccine or medication, all of us are vulnerable; thus, strict guidelines have been issued by authorities everywhere to control the virus. Information is changing rapidly and we must keep ourselves updated. You can keep coming back to this post for the latest on coronavirus pandemic.