Here’s What You Should Know about the Coronavirus COVID19, Symptoms and How to Prevent It
The coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and sometimes people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown. The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
1. COVID 19 is the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 the new coronavirus
The Coronaviruses is a family of viruses which can affect various species like Chickens, dogs, cats, Humans, cattle, wild animals, etc. COVID 19 is the disease caused by the virus and it stands for Corona Virus disease 2019. In 2002, two new corona viruses were spreading and caused severe diseases SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and MERS or Middle East Respiratory syndrome.
2. Where does the virus come from?
Scientists have stated that the virus comes from bats. The origin of coronaviruses comes from animals- SARS originated from civet cats whereas MERS originated from Camels. The cases of COVID- 19 started from the animal market in Wuhan where live and dead animals are sold, but currently is under investigation. This market was officially a seafood market but they also sold salamanders, peacocks, wolf cubs, camel meat and even porcupines and pangolins. In February 2020, a study was published in the scientific nature journal by Wuhan Institute of Virology, where they discovered a 96 % match in the genetic make-up virus samples in patients to the coronavirus in bats. Some scientists believe that since not many bats are sold in the market, the virus could have been transmitted from a middle man who had been infected by a bat.
Coronaviruses have the ability to jump from one species to another which has been proven in the case of MERS, SARS and the new coronavirus. The origin of the new corona virus has not yet been identified but it is being assumed from extensive research that Covid 19 came from a third intermediary and originated in bats. Scientists feel it had already evolved into a virus with transmission abilities and entered humans from pangolins.
3. Why are health experts so worried about it?
The international community is concerned about the virus because till now there is no vaccine and no cure. Except for its genetic structure and the proteins that infect human cell, nothing else is known about it. Moreover the virus is highly contagious and spread between humans instantly. While still not as dangerous as the SARS outbreaks, it may soon well be as till now 468,644 cases have been confirmed worldwide with 21,191 deaths worldwide.
Since nobody has ever encountered with the virus before, our immune system becomes helpless against it. This also means that the effects of viruses like common cold and flu is minor in comparison to this virus.
4. How does the virus spread?
Exposure to sneezes and coughs can spread this illness and this infection is very contagious. This infection spreads even before a person experience any symptoms. It is risky to be in close contact with anyone as it can travel in saliva and even tears, it is even dangerous to share utensils and cutlery as well. It can survive on steel and plastic for 72 hours, so it can even spread through skin contact. Medics thought that people who even visited the market were infected by it. Virologists and health care professionals are now saying that the virus can contaminate any surface.
5. What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Every individual can be affected by this infection in different ways. This is a respiratory disease where mild symptoms can be experienced by people who are infected, but who would not require treatment to recover. However, infected individuals need to be in strict isolation and quarantine to prevent transmitting it to others.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can be shown after 2- 14 days, but during this time the infected person is contagious. The symptoms of the diseases are sore throat, runny nose, cough and fever. While these were being regarded as the main general symptoms, several new studies have showed that there are additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, loss of taste and smell. Young children can experience hallucinations with high fever.
6. How many will recover
Majority of the patients recover from these symptoms while some do not even require any medical assistance. In those with a compromised immunity or underlying health conditions, complications like pneumonia can arise in which case the disease could take a serious or fatal turn. This disease can cause pneumonia in long term patients or people belonging to elderly age group. Pneumonia is an infection where your lungs get filled with fluid and swells up causing suffocation.
7. What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
In china, Scientists have discovered that this virus has a genetic sequence of 19 strains. They had distributed this study to people around the world to find a way to treat this illness. Gao Fu, Director-general of China’s center for disease control and prevented stated that this virus is adapting and mutating as it spreads from person to person. This means that every time a scientist analyses this virus, it will look different. It becomes difficult to study this virus and to control it potentially. In Iceland, scientists have already found 40 mutations.
8. How dangerous is the virus?
The death rate of this virus is 2% which is similar to the death rate of Spanish flu which caused around 50 million deaths in 1918. It is hard for Experts to believe that the official number of recorded cases is right depending on the real number of cases. There are even very mild symptoms where the patient won’t even know that they are ill unless tested. The severe cases can only be discovered otherwise the death toll will be much higher
The World Health Organization has asked everyone to be cautious and cooperate with governments in self-isolation. They also say that young people should not think of themselves invincible and there are a number fighting for their lives.
9. Can the virus be cured?
The spread of COVID-19 virus is difficult to contain and it cannot be cured at the moment. There are no present Antibiotics which will fight against this virus. An Antiviral can be created to fight it, but some years and large capital are required to understand this virus and what drugs will be required to treat it.
10. How to prevent the coronavirus
Only good hygiene and self-isolation can help prevent the virus. Washing hands for 20 seconds, washing your fruits and vegetables with soap and water, wearing a mask around those infected, and practicing good sanitation and hygiene habits at home will protect people from the virus. Refer to the CDC and WHO guidelines for preventing the coronavirus. Do not attempt to self-medicate and always consult you doctor.