Who would have imagined that a virus would be the most talked, most searched and the most feared topic in the whole world? But unfortunately yes, it is the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a communicable disease spread by droplet infection caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The disease was first identified in Wuhan, China.
Origin of Covid-19:
The virus evolved to its current pathogenic state through natural selection in a non-human host (bats) and then jumped to humans. Bats are the most likely reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 as it is very similar to a bat coronavirus. It is a matter of debate that the weird eating habits of Chinese led to the exposure of bat coronavirus to humans. Similarly, the previous coronavirus outbreaks have emerged after direct exposure to civets (SARS) and camels (MERS).
How Covid-19 became Pandemic?
On 17 November 2019, the Chinese govt received the first reports of a previously-unknown virus behind number of pneumonia cases in Wuuhan. From 17 November to 15 December 2019, daily 1-5 cases appeared, only after 180 cases appeared in Wuhan till 29 November 2019, the Chinese Govt first informed the whole world about the virus. The Chinese authorities also played a role in destroying the test samples at many labs till December 2019. Even the voice of Dr. Li Wenliang, the COVID-19 whistle blower was suppressed who later died of it. By the time the world realized the seriousness of the situation it had already been declared pandemic on March 11 by the WHO.
Sign & Symptoms:
Common symptoms are flu like such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose with shortness of breath.
Varying percentages of diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting can also be seen.
Emergency symptoms include difficulty in breathing & walking, persistent chest pain, bluish face/lips.
Severe symptoms include pneumonia, kidney failure or multi organ failure.
As per United State’s Covid-19 task force coordinator Deborah Birx’s study on Italian cases, coronavirus COVID-19 is twice as fatal in males as compared to females. Also, the less immune paediatric and geriatric patients are at greater risk and have far higher mortality rate than the middle aged patients.
The standard testing method is real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) on respiratory samples obtained by nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample.
Blood tests can also be used which require two blood samples taken two weeks apart and the results have little immediate value.
Recently, Indian Institute of Delhi have developed “probe-free detection assay” method, to detect COVID-19 which is significantly cheaper than the current tests by rRT-PCR method. Currently, the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune is in the process of validating this test on clinical samples. If validated, this can be a game changer method for the Indian health industry.
What Needs to be done?
Prevention is better than Cure:
Since our childhood, we have been taught that cleanliness is next to Godliness. It’s high time to follow it strictly. Simple steps like maintaining personal hygiene, washing hands frequently, use of sanitizer when outdoors, using flexed elbows/tissues/handkerchiefs/masks while coughing are the most effective ones. Social distancing is the need of the hour. Indian PM Modi’s call of ‘Janta curfew’ and subsequently 21 days lockdown for mass isolation is a part of the same strategy to break the chain of spreading the virus . Working from home, staying indoors unless it is absolutely necessary to go outside, for buying essential commodities must be strictly adhered to.
Strict action against COVID-19 Facilitators:
The 31st case of COVID-19 in South Korea who was later termed as the ‘Super Spreader’ had spread COVID-19 infection to about 4800 people. Similarly, Indian singer Kanika Kapoor who was tested positive for COVID-19 attended different parties and gatherings despite having a travel history to COVID-19 affected country. Unfortunately, like Kanika Kapoor, there is a large section of the society who don’t understand the graveness of the situation. When the PM and respective State Governments have appealed for staying indoors, the ignorance and rebellious nature of such people poses a great risk. Even few religious clerics have appealed against the PM and State Government’s appeal to stay indoor. This rebellious nature of people should be dealt strictly by the authorities in accordance to the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 so that the disease transmission can be reduced.
Need of Social Media Warriors:
While the social media has connected us much better with the whole world, there is also a large section of pseudo-intellectuals, media persons, bloggers and people with vested interests who are continuously spreading misinformation such as encouraging hoarding, panic buying etc. Though the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Government of India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) have joined hands together to counter fake information across various social media platforms, still there is a need of a large no. of social media warriors across the country who need to counter this fake news ecosystem in order to reduce panic among the common man.
While North Korea and Iran have been imposed with sanctions for nuclear proliferation by US along with many countries, similarly after controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world must take a strong action probably by means of sanctions by isolating China who suppressed COVID-19 information, destroyed test samples, even tried to silence the whistle blower which resulted in worldwide transmission of this deadly virus. Had the Chinese government acted timely with a proactive approach, the number of corona-virus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread could have been limited.
Hence, it’s high time to show collective solidarity, to maintain social distancing, to adhere to the guidelines strictly provided by WHO, Government of India and the respective State Governments, to stay away from the misinformation and to provide awareness to as much people as possible because TOGETHER WE CAN AND WE WILL!