COVID-19, The New Global Outbreak
Speculations about the new global issue had been running since last December 2019, when the WHO China Country Office received numerous cases of pneumonia. The cause, however, remained unknown until the 7th of January, 2020.
While originating in the city of Wuhan, China, the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has since been spreading rapidly across the globe taking into its fold over 170 countries recently.
How many lives are affected?
As of today (22nd March, 2020), the virus has spread its alms to 185 countries and territories, affecting over 267,000 people, taking with it the lives of 11,201.
In the UK, reports of the first contraction appeared on the 1st of February, 2020, and has since surged past the figure 4,000 as of now, registering deaths of over 170.
Another country picking up pace on another continent is seen as Pakistan that registered its first case back on 27th February and has surged past 495 cases in a very short period of time.
But what exactly is COVID-19 and how does it spread?
Unlike what looks like an entirely new viral disease, the parent family of COVID-19 has existed for a very long time, termed as “coronavirus family”.
Some examples of this family can be found in the recent past when the more severe MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, 2012) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, 2003), both deemed to have originated from an animal, perhaps bats.
COVID-19 is a relatively newer child but seems to have no different cause than the previous two contagious MERS and SARS. According to WHO, the virus is likely to have originated in a sea-food market in Wuhan, China, apparently from bats, and is transferable from human to human.
The most recent research shows that the virus spreads mainly through droplets in saliva when the infected person coughs or through discharge from the nose when they sneeze.
The droplets might immediately stick to various accessories, such as; doors, floors, doorknobs etc. (where the virus can survive for longer periods of time), and touched by an uninfected individual causing them to catch the disease, or through the infected carrier’s hands if they aren’t sanitized properly.
How do you know if you have been infected?
The severity of COVID-19 is not one size fits all, rather it depends on the age, immunity, and the overall living condition of the patient.
Usually, the virus will seek to develop mild to moderate symptoms in the infected one without needing any special treatment. While patients with low immunity or those over the age of 60 might suffer in a more severe manner and even undergo = death.
Common symptoms include fever, tiredness, and dry cough.
Other symptoms include aches and pains in the body, sore throat, shortness of breath, and in very rare cases; diarrhoea, nausea, or runny nose.
What are the treatment options available?
So far, no vaccine has been completely tested that can cure the disease, however, several countries are currently in a race to develop an effective vaccine for the cause.
A top Pakistani haematologist, Dr Tahir Shamsi, however, on speaking to various media outlets, suggested the technique of “passive immunization”, to help reduce the COVID-19 mortality rate.
Passive immunization refers to the process of extracting antibodies from the blood serum of recovered COVID-19 patients, and injecting them into the bloodstream of infected patients.
This helps the patient’s immune system fight off the disease and drastically reduces mortality rate. However, one downside to this is that the patient may be relieved from the disease for the time being, but may have a tendency to catch the disease again since their immune system does not develop its own antibodies during passive immunization.
What can you do to prevent yourself and others from harm?
While a permanent fix for this highly contagious disease isn’t out there in the market yet, it is best to prevent yourself from getting it in the first place.
Here are some things you can do to keep yourself and others around you from getting harmed:
• Wash your hands regularly with a soap and water.
• Maintain a safe distance of at least 1 metre between yourself and others.
• Avoid touching your face especially if you are outside.
• Isolate yourself if feel having any one of the symptom listed above.
• Avoid unnecessary travel and crowded places.
• Refrain from smoking as it already weakens the lungs making your symptoms worse.
Practicing a healthy hygiene and keeping away from all social gatherings are the best cure you have in this time of global crisis.