The Infectious Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus has derived its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface. While some coronaviruses affect animals only, there are types that infect humans too.  A person infected with coronavirus suffers from mild to moderate upper-respiratory infections, similar to the common cold. However, coronaviruses can also cause more severe ailments like pneumonia and bronchitis.

On 30 January 2020, following the advice of the Emergency Committee today, WHO Director-General has declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 

How does the Infection spread?

Like any other virus, coronavirus spreads from an infected individual to another through:

  • Close personal contact, such as shaking hands, hugging or touching
  • The air by sneezing and coughing
  • Touching a surface or an object with the virus on it, then touching your nose, eyes or mouth before washing the hands
  • Faeces (stool), rarely

The exact incubation period for coronavirus infection is unknown but is believed to be between 10 and 14 days.

Who is more Susceptible to Coronavirus Infection?

Although anyone may get infected with coronaviruses, young children are more susceptible to the virus. It is more common during the fall and winter. It is also common in immunocompromised patient and elderly owing to their weak immune system.

Symptoms of Coronavirus Infections

The symptoms vary depending on the type of the virus and level of  infection. For people suffering from mild to moderate upper-respiratory infection like the common cold, the symptoms would include:

  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue

Severe infections caused by a more dangerous type of coronaviruses may cause pneumonia and bronchitis in patients exhibiting symptoms like:

  • Cough with mucus
  • Fever, which may be high for people suffering from pneumonia
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Tightness in the chest while coughing or breathing

Older adults, infants and people with heart diseases, lung diseases, and weakened immune systems are more at risk of suffering from severe infections.

Severe complication of Coronavirus infection may also cause kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome and even death.

Diagnosis of Coronavirus Infection

Coronavirus infection can be diagnosed by your healthcare service provider by:

  • Taking your medical history and knowing your symptoms
  • Doing a physical examination
  • Running a few blood tests
  • Running lab tests of sputum, throat swab sample and other respiratory specimens

Treatment for Coronavirus Infection

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment to cure coronavirus infection. Most people get better by themselves. However, the symptoms can be relieved by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Getting an ample amount of rest
  • Taking a hot shower or using a room humidifier or cool mist vaporizer to ease the cough and sore throat
  • Taking OTC medicines for fever, cough, and pain. Ask your doctor to suggest medicines when it concerns children
  • Avoid smoking and going to smoky areas
  • Avoid overexertion

Preventive Measures for Coronavirus Infections

There is no vaccine available to prevent coronavirus infection in the present day and age. However, the risk of spreading or getting the infection can be reduced by:

  • Maintaining hand hygiene
  • Avoiding close contact with the patient
  • Avoiding touching the nose, mouth and face with unwashed hands
  • Disinfecting and cleaning areas and surfaces that are touched more frequently
  • Staying home when ill
  • Covering the nose and mouth with a tissue while sneezing and coughing. Then disposing the tissue properly and washing the hands

The Outbreak in China

The origin of the latest outbreak of the 2019-nCoV infection in China is yet to be determined. It is said to have come from a seafood market in Wuhan. As per WHO, the primary source of the outbreak is most likely to be an animal.
In China, more than 7700 cases have been confirmed, and 170 people have died. There are 82 additional cases confirmed in 18 countries . Chinese scientists believe that the source of the newly discovered virus could be the Chinese krait and the cobra.

How is India Responding?

According to the Health Ministry of India, all passengers are being screened for the newly detected virus. Health Ministry has suggested that travellers from China to India should visit the nearest health facility if they do not feel well. Airport authorities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin,Hyderabad and other cities have been asked by the Health Ministry to screen passengers coming from other countries.

The World Health Organization has declared the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic, with more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths.
WHO has developed a dashboard for Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) with the number of confirmed cases globally, which includes cases in China by provinces, regions and cities, as well as confirmed cases outside China by country.

In India, Kerala has reported 14 confirmed cases and is on high alert and caution. Kerala government announced that education instiitution remain closed till March end and all public function to be cancelled.

In Bangalore, after the initial report of the first case of the coronavirus, the state confirmed three more positive cases. Infected person and their families are quarantined and are kept under observation.Another incident reported involved a 40 year old man who was quarantined and treated at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest disease, is stable now.

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