Symptoms vary from mild symptoms like fever, cough and malaise to severe pneumonia, kidney failure and death. The disease seems to relatively mild but if the transmission capability of the virus is huge then given the size of the world population, it could have significant impact.
A new virus, by the name of Coronavirus has put the world and health agencies all around the globe on high alert. It all started on 31 December 2019, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in China’s Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province. The virus did not match any other known virus. The new virus is a corona virus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome). This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.” The virus is also known colloquially known as the “Wuhan coronavirus” after the city where it is believed to have originated. The disease is still very poorly understood, and seems to be changing rapidly. Updates from China, Thailand, Korea, and Japan indicate that the disease associated with 2019-nCoV appears to be relatively mild as compared with SARS and MERS. The symptoms vary from mild symptoms like fever, cough and malaise to severe pneumonia, kidney failure and death. The disease seems to relatively mild but if the transmission capability of the virus is huge then given the size of the world population, it could have significant national and international impact. The exact source of the virus is still unknown, but the first case most likely came from contact with a non-human animal host in Wuhan.
As of January 24, 2020, at least 830 cases had been diagnosed in nine countries: China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Nepal, and the United States. Twenty-six fatalities occurred, mainly in patients who had serious underlying illness. Not enough is known about the epidemiology of 2019-nCoV to draw definitive conclusions about the full clinical features of disease, the intensity of the human-to-human transmission, and the original source of the outbreak. New confirmed cases will continue to appear in other areas and countries.
Just like the SARS outbreak in China back in 2003 which claimed around 800 lives, the Coronavirus Outbreak also began from a ‘wet’ seafood market (which sells both live and dead animals). The food market where China’s deadly coronavirus surfaced was a smorgasbord of exotic wildlife ranging from wolf pups to species linked to previous pandemics such as civets, a Chinese local media reported. It sold animal-based products including foxes, snakes, crocodiles, rats, peacocks. While the Coronavirus is said to have links from bats, it is likely that the host of the infection in Wuhan was snakes.
Treatment and Prevention
Dr Sanjay Wazir, the Director of the Neonatal intensive care unit and a paediatrician at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Gurgaon, has given the following methods to help aid in trying to prevent from contracting the virus, and also possible treatments for the same.
Dr Wazir says that when it comes to cases of viral pneumonia, antibiotics do not work. He said, “There is no medicated treatment or drugs for the disease. The only treatment that can be given is putting the patient on a ventilator and ensuring enough oxygen supply reaches the lungs. The patient is also made to drink lots of fluids to push out the infection from the system. There is no need for any other medicine as the body can recuperate from the infection on its own.”
While the government of India has instructed that all flight passengers arriving from China to the airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi airports should be screened regularly, it is always best to be safe than sorry and we must take necessary precautions ourselves. Talking about WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, he elaborated on them saying safe practices include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices. Here are some tips shared by Dr Wazir.
•Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
•When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
•Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
•If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
•When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
•The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.