While the doctors are in a pursuit to learning more on this, it is always a best idea to stay precautious.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus emerges, with infections and death toll rising above in China, and the impact is seen globally. Over 1,000 people have died; the number has sadly eclipsed that of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic that caused outrage in 2002 and 2003. Although safety measures are being implemented everywhere with travel restrictions, quarantines and fallbacks, the results are yet to be seen.
It is coherent that the people are on the edges as the news of thousands of cases been identified in China. The World Health Organisation has declared the new Coronavirus as a global health emergency, with the reported cases in various other countries like Canada and United States. The officials have however urged the people to remain calm as the virus-spread has slowed down, according to an official statement this morning.
“Mostly, the advice is stay tuned,” says Joseph Vinetz, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist. “The bottom line is that there is a new flu-like bug. With a new virus in a culture dish, they can start looking at the biology and making drugs to treat it. Viral sequences have become available and will jump-start understanding the biology of this virus, including diagnosis and spread in human populations.”
The name coronavirus refers to spikes seen (under a microscope) on the surface of the virus (corona is the Latin word for crown). Coronaviruses cause respiratory tract illnesses that range from the common cold to such potentially deadly illnesses as SARS, also first identified in China, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Until SARS was identified, coronaviruses known as 0C43 and 229E, were the only known coronaviruses causing human infections. (OC43 and 229E are frequent causes of the common cold.) After the SARS coronavirus was identified, other coronaviruses, namely NL63 and HKU, were identified and have been found to cause human infections worldwide.
The 2019 novel coronavirus is a coronavirus that scientists haven’t seen before. Like other viruses—including Ebola (a deadly infectious disease that originated in Africa) and influenza—it is believed to have started in animals and spread to humans.
Source: Yale Medicine, USA.
Most of the initial diagnosis of the new coronavirus were somehow linked to a vast animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China; which suggested animal-to-human transmission. The officials later declared that it is possible to transmit from person-to-person, though the definite mechanism of transmission is still imprecise.
“We don’t know how contagious it is,” Dr. Vinetz says. “We don’t know how casual the contact has to be or how close the contact has to be.”
It is said that the virus is highly contagious during the incubation period (14 days), and symptoms may develop between 2 and 14 days after exposure. According to the data and statistics, older people and people with preexisting medical conditions are at higher risk of being exposed to the virus, but people at other age group and health conditions have also been infected. With SARS and MERS, the transmission of virus was believed to be identical that of influenza, spreading amongst people in the vicinity of an infected person who spreads respiratory droplets by coughing or sneezing, but in this case, it is still a theory.
The Coronavirus generally pose as pneumonia, and has caused kidney failure in some cases, WHO stated. The common symptoms include, Fever, Cough, Sore throat and difficulty in breathing that could be severe and urge people to seek hospital care.
Dr. Vinetz says, “The best thing you can do at this point is take care of yourself the way you would to prevent yourself from getting the flu. You know you can get the flu when people sneeze and cough on you, or when you touch a doorknob. Washing hands—especially before eating, going to the bathroom, and touching your face—and avoiding other people who have flu-like symptoms are the best strategies at this point.”
Although the risk involved seems lower in most parts of the world, it is still crucial to be on the safe side. Coronavirus is vaguely new and the scientists have only limited information regarding it; new diseases aren’t discovered often, but some (such as Ebola) turn out to be deadly. For now, spreading awareness and keeping ourselves updated with the correct information are the best source of hope.
It is advisable to people who travel locally or internationally, or whoever comes in contact with other people often to:
- Avoid possible contact with sick people
- Avoid animals, whether they are dead or alive, as well as animal markets or animal products overall.
- Wash hands periodically with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Importantly, before meals, after sneezing, coughing or using the bathrooms.
- It is also a best practice to use alcohol based hand sanitisers (at least 60% of alcohol).
Since threats like this lead to the circulation of misinformation, it is important to depend only on verified sources and from reputable government or health organisations.
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Information Sources: Yale Medicine, CDC and World Health Organisation.