A global health emergency has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to a new coronavirus that has killed over 304 people in China after an outbreak was reported in the city of Wuhan. This forced a government lockdown in more than 20 cities in China which means it has quarantined around 56 million people.
Over 14,500 cases have been reported till now all across the world, with the majority of cases in the Hubei province of China. A man originating from Wuhan (China) had died in the Philippines (United States) on 2nd February 2020, becoming the first fatality outside China.
This infection is reportedly more widespread than the outbreak of 2002-2003 of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which had also originated in China. But, it is more widespread in terms of affected people but not in deaths.
We have compiled all the details that you may need to know about the coronavirus. Keep reading to know more.
What is a coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronaviruses are a family of viruses. This virus causes an illness that may range from the common cold to severe diseases like the SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
The coronaviruses had originally been transmitted between the animals and the people. On the other hand, the SARS was transmitted from the civet cats to the humans and MERS is believed to have been transmitted from a type of camel to the humans. We have known that there is a presence of several known coronaviruses that are found circulating within the animals but have not yet infected the humans.
The name coronavirus has been derived from the Latin word corona, which means crown or halo. When we look under an electron microscope, we can see that the image of the virus is reminding us of a solar corona.
A novel coronavirus was identified by the Chinese authorities on 7th January 2020. It has been named as 2019-nCoV. The authorities had reported that this is a new strain that had not been identified in humans recently. Not much is known about this virus even though human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.
What are the coronavirus symptoms?
According to the WHO, the symptoms of coronavirus infection include a fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulties in breathing.
In the more severe cases, the coronavirus can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death.
The incubation period for the same is not known. Some say that it could be between 10 to 14 days.
Some may even say that this may not be as deadly as the other severe types of coronavirus like SARS, which has ended up killing more than 800 people all across the world with over 300 people in China alone. This outbreak had occurred during 2002-03 which had also originated in China.
MERS was a more deadly form of the outbreak which had not been very widespread but ended up killing one-third of those infected with it. In China, the infection is more widespread than SARS.
How is it spread?
The number of cases of the coronavirus outbreak could have increased because of the following factors:
- Animal to Human Spread
- Air by way of coughing and sneezing
- Person to Person Spread (close contact and touch)
How to prevent the spread?
The standard recommendations by the World Bank to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus are as follows:
- Washing your hands whenever needed
- Keep your mouth and nose covered when sneezing
- Thoroughly cooking the meat and eggs
- Avoid contact with the sick people and animals as much as you can
- Avoid traveling to the countries that have been affected
Which are the coronavirus affected countries?
The majority of the cases and deaths have been reported in China with most of the cases in the Hubei Province. The virus has reportedly already spread to other Asian countries. Australia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East have also reported a few cases.
Nearly all of the cases that have been reported outside China are of those people who have recently traveled to the country. Many cases have been reported in countries of the Asia-Pacific region and the European, North American and the Middle-Eastern countries. Apart from China, the other affected countries include:
Australia - 12
Cambodia - 1
Canada - 4
Finland - 1
France - 6
Germany - 8
India - 2
Italy - 2
Japan - 20
Malaysia - 8
Nepal - 1
The Philippines - 2
Russia - 2
Singapore - 18
Taiwan - 10
Things that are done to stop it from spreading:
Scientists have been working on developing a vaccine but it has been warned that it will not likely be available for mass distribution before the year 2021.
The Chinese authorities have completely sealed off the city of Wuhan, and many restrictions have been placed on traveling to and from the other cities. This affects over 56 million people. As per the state broadcaster CCTV, This has been done to "resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading" and for the protection of the lives.
Several airlines have even canceled their flights to China. Also, some countries have banned Chinese nationals from entering into their countries and have also evacuated the citizens who have come there from Wuhan.
Origin of the Coronavirus
The Chinese health authorities are still figuring out the origin of the virus. They think that the virus has most likely come from a seafood market in the city of Wuhan. In Wuhan, wildlife had also been traded illegally.
The World Health Organization has also said the same that an animal source is most probably the primary source of the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese scientists have also mentioned that snakes could be a possible source.
The World Health Organization has said that the outbreak has resulted in a global health emergency. There have been a total of five global health emergencies since the year 2005 worldwide. These include swine flu in the year 2009; polio in the year 2014; Ebola in the year 2014; Zika in the year 2016 and Ebola again in the year 2019.
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image source- CNN, siasat , Michigan radio