Up till now there has been in total 88,000 reported cases of individual who are infected by the virus and there has been circa 3000 deaths across the world. It is a global pandemic and is spreading very quickly and unfortunately there isn’t a cure yet! So, prevention and precautions is the only way forward. The ambit of this article is only to enlighten its readers about the origins of the coronavirus, how is it spreading around the world, what are the offshoots of this pandemic and how is the global community responding to this pandemic.
HISTORY OF EPIDEMICS
Historically world has seen a wide range of epidemics. The most notable of these plagues were bubonic plague which originated in Egypt long time ago and was responsible for killing almost 1/3 of world’s population. Another of notable plagues was the infamous black plague which lasted from 1331 to 1353. The plague originated in Europe and it is estimated that it killed approximately 75 million people. More recent pandemic was the Spanish flu in 1918 which infected almost 500 million people around the world and killed approximately 50 million to 80 million people. Moreover, we have seen more novel outbreaks like Cholera, Influenza, Typhus, Smallpox, Measles, Tuberculosis, leprosy, Malaria, yellow fewer, Ebola virus and the Zika virus. And let’s not forget the most infamous of all, the HIV Aids.
GENESIS OF THE NOVEL CRONAVIRUS
The virus has reportedly originated from a city of China, Wuhan. The virus may have originated at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. The virus originally was founded by an ophthalmologist by the name of Li Wenliang. On 30thDecember 2019, 7 confirmed cases of SARS were reported from Huanan Seafood Market. Li Wenliang was the one who detected the virus and suggested that it may be a subtype of the SARS and MERS syndromes. He went on to become a whistle blower by making the concern public and engaging media and politicians. Unfortunately, Li died of the coronavirus on Feb 7, 2020.
The virus has simply been named after its crown shape appearance, Corona. Hence, it is called coronavirus. Is it a newly discovered pathogen? Well the answer is partially yes and partially no. A similar pathogen with 95% similar genome earlier hit the world by the name of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Hence, the current coronavirus is an extension of the earlier SARS and MERS syndromes.
THE CORONAVIRUS CONUNDRUM: OUTBREAK, SPREAD and AMELIORATION
The coronavirus is zoonotic. This means that it is born inside animals and transfers from animals to humans. It is reported that this virus was initially carried by bats. Other animals which are very likely to carry this virus are camels, pangolins and civets. It was later transmitted from these animals into humans. And because of the lack of awareness and preparedness, humans transmitted the virus into other humans. Hence, coronavirus is not man made.
Person to Person contact
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
The most dangerous aspect is the amelioration of the outbreak. The coronavirus with in a span of just 2 months has spread in three of the seven continents. Most of the cases reported are in Asia and America, and Europe. In total 60 countries has reported cases of coronavirus. According to CNN, 3000 people have died from the virus and over 88,000 have infected globally. And it is counting! Given the statistics, it sounds a serious concern. Hence, the exponential increase of the cases is precariously alarming.
THE HORRENDOUS OFFSHOOTS
The coronavirus has posed the outlook of 2020 as dark and gloomy. The widespread fear and panic has made everyone suspicious about everyone. In order to contain the spread of the outbreak, economies around the world have installed quarantine facilities around all the major choke points of travels and mobility like airports etc. This has disrupted the global travel, economy and resulted in unplanned delays. Moreover, adverse impact on the economy include disruption to global supply chains, weaker final demand for imported goods and services, and the wider regional declines in international tourism and business travel.
Furthermore, International relations among countries has also suffered significantly as countries are closing border to each other and blaming each other for lack of preparedness and control measures.
Given no cure for this is found yet, it is imperative on all of us to take precautionary measures. Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include
- - regular hand washing,
- - covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
- - thoroughly cooking meat and eggs,
- - avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.