Since the onset of early civilization, cholera, plague, and other epidemics have been a cause of mass deaths. Today, as we stand in 2020, the corona virus has become a major health scarce. Having already heard of 60,000 such cases at the time of writing this article, new cases are being identified every single day. The World Health Organization and several regional organizations are looking for effective ways to identify and tackle this disease. In this article, we shall delve into all that you need to know about this virus.
What is the corona virus?
A common member of the virus family, coronaviruses are identified by spikes (that look like crowns) on the surface of the virus. It is interesting to note that, this family of viruses affects most human beings at some point in their lives. Usually showing up in the form of mild respiratory infections like common cold or bronchitis, it can sometimes take the form of pneumonia. In most cases, this is not fatal.
Having understood this, the next question on our mind will be, ‘Then why is there such an uproar about Coronavirus?’ What the media is talking about is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a new type of coronavirus. This spreads from person to person and is extremely dangerous (often resulting in death).
Corona virus symptoms
One of the biggest challenges in tackling coronavirus is its long incubation period. According to researchers, the incubation period may be as long as 24 days. During the incubation period, the patient may not have any visible symptoms but his body will have the virus and it will spread to people around him.
The symptoms may start to show up anywhere between 2 to 14 days. These include many respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, and fever. As the condition progresses, one may experience difficulty in breathing, severe acute respiratory syndrome or pneumonia. Most diagnosed cases of 2019 nCoV have patients suffering from pneumonia in both the lungs. The terminal stages include kidney failure and often results in death.
Corona virus prevention
Corona virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in China on the 31st of December 2019. The fact that it has spread to over 30 countries in a matter of a month is a cause of major concern. Naturally, it is passengers traveling to and from China who pose the greatest risk of spreading the disease. As a preventive measure, airports across the globe are being extremely cautious to prevent its spread.
The Changi Airport in Singapore has come up with mandatory thermal screening for all passengers traveling from China. The Embassy’s of countries like the US, Ukraine, Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Canada, and others have arranged for special flights to transport their citizens struck in Wuhan. Such people are kept in special quarantine homes wherein they are tested for symptoms of the disease. Moreover, airlines such as United Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, Indigo, and Air India have cancelled most of their flights to China.
While government initiatives are in place, it is to be understood that touching an object that has the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes is the easiest way of spreading the disease. That is why it is a good practice to wash your hands as frequently as possible. In cases where you cannot wash the hand, the use of hand sanitizer is advised.
Another efficient preventive measure that one can inculcate is the avoidance of shaking hands (to avoid any physical contact with a virus-infected person). Switching to a traditional Indian ‘namaste’ instead of a handshake will go a long way in this regard. Also, while it is a good practice to cover one’s nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing, one cannot expect everyone to comply with that. Thus, wearing protective masks is a good way to keep oneself safe from viral infections.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Despite the top medical research facilities being involved in the pursuit, there is no vaccine to prevent one from the viral attack. For symptoms like cough, fever and cold, over-the-counter medicines will be given. Taking a hot shower provides some relief from respiratory discomfort. However, if you suspect suffering from this, reach out to the nearest hospital. The physical examination followed by blood tests will help medical practitioners compare your condition with corona virus effects and take appropriate action.
With the first Indian case of corona virus being detected in Kerala, all of us need to be highly alert. Medical facilities with taking respiratory specimens and lab tests of the same will pave the way for the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. At the time of writing this article, medical centers across the country are prepared to tackle any suspected case of corona virus. The latest corona virus updates state that over 14,840 new cases were reported in the Hubei Province of China recently. This takes the toll to around 48,206 cases.
The current situation brings forth many cases of moral dilemmas as well. Let us consider the case of the Diamond princess cruiser which has 3700 people aboard. One person in the lot had coronavirus and the same has now spread to 131 others. The ship is now stranded off the coast of Japan till the 19th of February. The point is, if the ship is left that way, the healthy people in it will most certainly catch the infection. If passengers are allowed to leave the ship, the lives of millions of people on land will be at risk. This cruise ship was on a world tour and passers do not belong to a single nation. Naturally, in such a situation, one cannot expect any particular nation to bear the responsibility of it.
As of now, we can only hope that mankind arrives at a vaccination, treatment, and cure for the corona virus soon. With the World Health Organization putting its best foot forward, things do look promising. Till then, all we can do is maintain hygiene and try to keep ourselves safe from any viral infection.