There has been an international outbreak of a new Coronavirus which started in Wuhan nearby cities in Hubei Province, in China. An estimated 56 million people have been quarantined with at least 304 people killed. This has led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency to enable other countries to take caution since there have also been reports of the outbreak of the coronavirus in other countries including the United States of America, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.
More than 14,000 cases of the Coronavirus haven been reported worldwide with China being the major target. Travelers and tourists have been warned by different health agencies to avoid traveling to China for now, especially to the Wuhan region which is the most affected area right now. Even schools have been closed in Wuhan and other affected cities.
Although the Coronavirus outbreak is fast spreading all over the world, yet many people don’t understand what the virus is all about, the risk involved when the virus spread to other parts of the world, the symptoms, and if there is any treatment available to fight the virus.
Well, much is still not known about the virus yet. An important thing to note is if it can be transmitted by a patient yet to show the symptoms of the virus. It is also important to know that from what has been gathered so far, the virus can be easily transmitted and it can cause severe disease which can lead to death.
Here is all we’ve been able to gather about the Coronavirus outbreak, the risk, symptoms, and treatment.
What is Coronavirus?
These are a family of viruses that contains strains that attack the respiratory system. It is a virus that causes very deadly diseases in animals, especially mammals. It is a virus that can be easily spread by infected individuals via airborne droplets of fluid. It causes severe illness of the respiratory tract that starts from the common cold until it develops into severe conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
The Coronaviruses were before now transmitted from animals to humans. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was believed to have been transmitted to humans from civet cats. Several other known Coronaviruses have not yet affected humans but it is circulating among the animals.
The latest identified type of the Coronavirus called 2019 novel has started causing panic around the world because it is discovered to be transferred from one human to another. It is a cause of concern because before it was identified by the Chinese authorities on the 7th of January, 2020, it has not been previously known to humans.
Different types of Coronavirus have been discovered but the most common two are the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both of the Coronaviruses are transmitted from animals. While MERS is believed to be transmitted from Arabian camels, SARS’ original host is the civet cat.
This will probably not be the first time the world witnessed the Coronavirus. In 200, SARS spread through about 37 countries unchecked, more than 8000 people were infected and about 750 died from the virus. More than 2500 people were infected from MERS and about 35% of them died but it was less pass from human to human, most of the infections were passed from animals, probably bat.
There are four genera known in the Coronavirus family, they include Alphacoronavirus, Betacoronavirus, Gammacoronavirus, and Deltacoronavirus. Alphacoronavirus and Betacoronavirus infect only mammals including humans, cats, pigs, and bats. Gammacoronavirus infects mostly birds, while Deltacoronavirus can infect both mammals and birds.
However, the particular Coronavirus breakout experienced in Wuhan and other affected areas is still unknown, but there are indications that it will be a new type of the virus even though it is similar to SARS or MERS. This is the reason this Coronavirus has been named 2019 novel Coronavirus.
This new type of Coronavirus also comes from an animal because most of the infected people either worked in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the center of the Chinese city or those who frequently shopped there. In the wholesale market, they also sold live and even newly slaughtered animals. Emerging viruses usually originate in animal hosts just like in Ebola and flu.
How is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus spread?
This type of Coronavirus has been discovered to be passed from human to human. It is still unknown how contagious the virus could be but researches are currently going on to ascertain the extent to which the virus can be contagious. For now, it shows that the infected people start showing the symptoms within 14 days of exposure to the virus.
Just like the SARS and MERS, it is perceived to be spread through exposure to droplets from sneezing and couching. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, they can pass on the virus if the spray or droplets they let outreaches to the mouth, nose, or eyes of another person. An infectious disease expert has also indicated that a person can catch a respiratory disease indirectly through touching droplets on a surface and then touching the mucosal membranes in the eye, mouth, and nose. This is why it is advised that people always wash their hands properly at all times, especially during an outbreak like this.
The spread of this new Coronavirus is currently being monitored by the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other health organizations. The World Health Organization has already declared the Coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency on the 30th of January, 2020.
As parts of the measures to ensure that the Coronavirus doesn’t spread fast, the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan has been closed down, transport systems in and out of the city have also been closed, schools and public places in affected areas have also been closed down for now, and the infected ones have been quarantined. Travelers and tourists have also been warned not to travel to Wuhan if necessary.
What are the Risk Involved
The World Health Organization and other health officials around the world are alarmed about the emergence of this type of Coronavirus because it is hard to accurately assess how dangerous or deadly the new virus can be.
It appears at the moment that people with poor health facilities are at greatest risk. A major concern is how severe the symptoms can be. Some of the infected people only suffer mild illnesses while others are becoming severely ill. This has made it difficult to know the number of infected people and the extent of the transmission.
Another major concern about the new Coronavirus is that it can be transferred from one person to another and the impact it will have on countries with weaker health systems will be severe since they may not be well prepared for it. This concern is what led to the declaration of the Corona outbreak as a world health emergency.
With about 38 deaths and 1737 infected cases reported within 24 hours, it became a very serious health issue. More cases are still expected as other countries have started having some reports of infected persons.
What are the Symptoms of 2019 Novel Coronavirus
Although it will be very difficult to know if a person is infected by the novel Coronavirus with the only physical examination, a laboratory test will be needed to confirm the diagnosis. However, there appear to be some similar symptoms to the flu or a bad cold.
Early signs of the new type of Coronavirus infection according to the World Health Organization include cough, sneezing, fever, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. This illness causes lung lesions and in some cases it also causes pneumonia.
There is a resemblance to the flu or bad cold symptoms for milder cases. This makes the detection of the virus difficult. It takes about 14 days from the time of infection of the virus to the onset of the symptoms.
However, the Chinese authorities have said recently that they have seen cases without the usual symptoms. In infected persons, the first symptoms were gastrointestinal and diarrhea. The head of China’s national health commission had also claimed that the infected people could even spread the virus without having the symptoms. This statement has further alarmed many world health experts as American experts said they need to see the scientific evidence so that they can analyze it themselves to see the truth in the statement.
How can the 2019 Novel Coronavirus be Treated?
For now, there is still yet to be identified treatment for the virus. Any person discovered to have any of the early symptoms of the virus may not need to panic, especially when the person does not stay around Wuhan for now. Such a person should be taken to a good health center for a possible diagnosis.
The reason for the lack of solution yet is partly attributed to the fact that the full details concerning the virus are yet to be known but serious researches are ongoing about it. Health experts have been analyzing the virus and the mode in which it can be transferred from one person to another.
Wearing a surgical mask according to experts may in a way protect you from the infection when you are in a crowd when there is an outbreak. But surgical masks may not be enough to filter all the air you breathe in since the masks are not close-fitting enough.
However, there are measures you can take to protect yourself from possible infection or from spreading the infection around. Wearing a mask will help to protect the people around you from being infected if you have a respiratory infection.
The following are ways you can protect yourself
- You must wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 30 seconds. Always use soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer in cases where there are no soaps available.
- You must avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eye without properly washing your hands
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then you should throw the tissue properly in the trash
- In case of an outbreak in your area or when you are sick, it is best to stay at home, except when you want to visit a health center.
- Always clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that people frequently touch.
The emphasis from experts, for now, is that since it has been discovered that it is a virus that is causing the illnesses and there are no available treatments yet, the infection can only be allowed to run its course while the people try to protect themselves with the best measure they can.
Since it has also been discovered that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus originates from the animal, finding the source and also eliminating it would help so that there will not be the further spread of the virus from the host animal. Vaccines can also be invented as parts of preventive measures even though it may take years to come up with.
The worrying part is the fact that since not much has been known about the new type of Coronavirus, we may not know how soon the spread of the virus will end or if there is any possibility that the virus will simply die on its own.
However, there is still no need to panic as American health officials and other health officials are working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to monitor the situation. An emergency response system has also been activated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to screen passengers from China.
As also a measure to stop the spread of the virus to other countries, the CDC has instructed health centers to always ask patients who come in for respiratory illness or fever if they have had contact with anyone who recently traveled to Wuhan or if they have traveled to Wuhan or any nearby cities in China.
This way, the spread of the virus can be controlled to the barest minimum. When you experience any of the symptoms, even if you have not visited Wuhan before, just go for a diagnosis in a good health center so that you can be sure.