The outbreak of deadly Coronavirus in Wuhan city of China has been a cause of major worry since it first came to light in December 2019, with the disease spreading at a faster pace, finally being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.
Currently, more than 1,275,000 people worldwide have contracted the deadly viral infection, and COVID-19 has claimed more than 70,000 lives.
The respiratory illness which mimics pneumonia has put nations across the world on high alert, with many countries shutting down all flights at key airports and going into total lockdown, forcing their citizens to avoid travel and stay indoors, to curb the rampant dispersal of the highly infectious ailment.
The coronavirus is a new strain of the virus that belongs to the family Coronaviridae and sub-family Coronavirinae. It is a zoonotic virus which means that it can be transmitted between animals and humans. Also Read: Nipah Virus: Read to know about sources and symptoms
These viruses are responsible for a host of illnesses ranging from the trivial common cold to the much more serious Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MeRS – CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS – CoV). They act by incorporating their viral RNA genetic material with the host’s DNA genetic material and slowly progress to many organs in the system of the individual who has contracted the coronavirus. In fact, there are still numerous types of coronavirus that are yet to be discovered which are circulating amongst animals and have not yet affected humans.
One such novel strain of this deadly virus was recently identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) officials in Wuhan city, Hubei province of China at the beginning of the year 2020. Due to its dangerous characteristics, immediate research was conducted by Chinese scientists and a novel coronavirus (n-CoV) was determined to be the trigger factor behind the spate of respiratory illnesses currently plaguing many people in China and around the globe.
In order for people in India to prevent infections by this new strain of coronavirus and in case the disease arises in any individual, every single person should be aware of the signs, symptoms, prevention and medical care strategies, in order to ensure prompt treatment and complete recovery of the affected individual.
The recent updates by officials of the World Health Organization also stated that the virus can spread from an infected person to a healthy individual by means of surfaces that the former comes in contact with, including currency notes and newspapers.The government health authorities are emphasizing the need for one and all in the world to stay indoors as much as possible, work from home, use technology to communicate and opt for digital means of staying connected, to stop this dangerous and contagious infection from affecting more people.
The distinguishing symptoms of the coronavirus infection are similar to upper respiratory tract infections and comprise the following:
- Runny nose
- Fever that does not subside even after medication
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Pain in kidneys
Diagnosis And Treatment:
The diagnosis of coronavirus infection is quite challenging to doctors, as the typical symptoms resemble that of a common cold or a viral fever. Also Read: Influenza Virus: Debunking Common Myths About The Contagious Disease
Nevertheless, doctors around the world have currently standardized a few testing protocols, to detect coronavirus in infected people.
Doctors take a nasal swab or throat swab of the person displaying symptoms of upper respiratory tract and breathing problems, which is an extract of the tissue from the individual. This is then analyzed by means of a technique known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which detects the genetic layout of any infectious viral strain in the tissue of the patient and displays a match with that of the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus if the two resemble each other exactly. The test results are usually obtained after 4 to 5 hours, and if the strains of viruses match, then the patient is declared to be coronavirus positive and is given immediate medical treatment, quarantined in hospital and isolated from other healthy individuals.
Another method of diagnosis that is quicker is rapid antibody testing. Here, the blood sample of the person is obtained by means of a single prick on the fingers, following which it is examined for any antibodies that may have been synthesized to combat the coronavirus. Results can be obtained at a fast pace, within just 30 minutes and is useful in countries wherein massive number of people report with symptoms of COVID-19.
However, when there is an epidemic of the virus, the countries wherein it could spread are placed on high alert and the WHO even lays travel restrictions, warning tourists to avoid visiting those countries where the virus is prevalent at the time.
Due to the strain of coronavirus being very resilient, no efficient treatment method has been uncovered yet. Antibiotics cannot combat viruses and antivirals designed thus far have not been effective in destroying the viral strain in the system of the infected patient.
The best way to avoid the complications and myriad respiratory illnesses arising from coronaviruses is prevention. The WHO strongly advises children, youngsters and the elderly to regularly wash hands with a sanitizing liquid and use pollution masks if the person is living in regions where instances of coronavirus infection have been detected in humans.