What is Coronavirus?The coronavirus belongs to a wide family of viruses that can cause sickness in humans ranging from the common cold to life-threatening diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These diseases can cause respiratory infection and illness in your respiratory tract and are easily transmitted from person to person. Coronavirus is a new strain of a respiratory virus that has not been identified in humans earlier. And it has been given the name of corona virus due to its shape which takes the form of a crown. This new virus is also known by the name SARS COV-2. The viruses like the SARS virus, MERS virus and the new corona-virus are transmitted in humans from animals. Therefore, these viruses are zoonotic.
How did the Coronavirus start?Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was discovered by the end of the year 2019 in China. And the first case of a person being infected from this virus came from the Wuhan province of China. The source of coronavirus has been identified as the wet market in Wuhan. The wet market is a street in China that sells seafood, live animals and exotic wild animals for consumption. Although the corona virus is said to be transmitted from an animal, the specific animal source remains unknown. Nonetheless, the ancestral hosts of this virus are thought to be bats.
How does the Coronavirus spread?The new coronavirus spreads rapidly from one person to another through close contact. It is mainly spread by the droplet of an infected person whenever he/she coughs and sneezes. It can also spread by shaking hands with a corona positive person and by coming in contact with infected surfaces.
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?The symptoms of coronavirus may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. High fever and cough are the mild symptoms shown by a person affected by the virus. Shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing are the severe symptoms of COVID-19. Other symptoms include flu like symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, tiredness, and body aches. The signs of coronavirus appear like seasonal flu symptoms and Pneumonia. However, there might be a marked difference in the way the symptoms appear; the symptoms of flu appear intensely and quickly, while, the person infected with corona virus shows symptoms rather slowly.
How serious is the disease?Over 2 lakhs people have been affected by the coronavirus with total deaths amounting to 10,405. The cases of deaths are increasing rapidly. The new coronavirus is highly contagious and it has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. This virus can cause a severe threat to the human race if uncontrolled. It is becoming difficult for healthcare workers to control this epidemic because the incubation period is longer making it difficult to identify people who are affected before they spread the virus to others. Further, elderly people or those with existing medical issues such as diabetes, respiratory disease or heart disease may be at a higher risk, if infected by MERS corona virus. However, the fatality rate of COVID-19 is much lower than the other major outbreaks like SARS, MERS or Ebola. The latest estimates suggest the chance of dying of the corona-virus, if contracted, is nearly 1.4 percent. So, the situation is indeed serious but it can be controlled by taking aggressive steps and following preventive measures.
Is there a cure for Coronavirus?The coronavirus is new and different. No antiviral medicine is working on this virus. And as of now, there are no specific vaccines or medicines available to treat the coronavirus. Therefore, an infected person has to rely on the strength of his/her immune system and quarantine himself/herself for a period of 14 days. Only supportive care is given to a corona-virus infected person who is hospitalised. Nevertheless, scientists and major drug companies all over the world are racing to develop vaccines to halt the coronavirus outbreak. For now, control and prevention is the best possible way to protect yourself.
What are the ways to protect yourself?If you protect yourself, you protect others around you. Hence, ensure that you follow basic preventive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Following are the steps that you must take to keep yourself protected:
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if there is no availability of water.
- Keep distance from people who sneeze and cough.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow while coughing and sneezing.
- Avoid crowded places and mass gatherings and try to stay home.
- Clean and disinfect the objects that you touch on a daily basis.