A new virus belonging to the Coronavirus family named as novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV, has claimed over 1,873 lives in China. The outbreak of the deadly virus is continuing to spread outside China and has also reached India with three confirmed cases so far, in the state of Kerala. In this regard, the state of Kerala has declared the outbreak of this deadly virus as a state disaster and World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (global emergency).
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that are often the source of respiratory infections, including the common cold. Most of the viruses are common among animals, but sometimes, an animal-based coronavirus mutates and successfully finds a human host.
According to the World Health Organization, during previous outbreaks due to other coronaviruses, human-to-human transmission occurred through droplets or objects making contact, suggesting that the transmission mode of the 2019-nCoV can be identical.
The symptoms may include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Antibiotics do not work against such viral pneumonia and there are no vaccines against them. In addition to this, the virus is contagious even during incubation, that is even before a patient exhibits any symptoms. This characteristic amplifies transmissibility. Due to this, travel bans across China are initiated and the literal isolation of Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, has been done.
Coronavirus Outbreak – A Manmade Disaster
Diseases that pass from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. They are rare. The chief concern with them is that since they are new to humans, the human body does not have any immunity to them. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally, about a billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from zoonoses, i.e, diseases and infections naturally transmitted between people and vertebrate animals. Some 60% of emerging infectious diseases globally are zoonoses. Of the over 30 new human pathogens detected over the last three decades, 75% originated in animals.
Coronavirus is one of them. It is believed to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that was involved in the illegal sale of wildlife. According to WHO, wherever there is close mixing of humans and animals, especially the unregulated handling of blood and other body products, as happens for example in China’s animal markets, there are greater chances of transmission of a virus from animals to humans, and its mutation to adapt to the human body.
Guidelines to Prevent the infection
The WHO and UNICEF have recommended people to do regular handwashing, cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and avoid close contact with anyone suspected of being infected or showing respiratory illness symptoms. People in public places are asked to wear face masks.
Should you wear a medical mask to avoid #coronavirus?
If you’re coughing or sneezing, it is advised that you wear one. But there is no need if you don’t have any symptoms.
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) February 14, 2020