Currently, the whole world is closely watching the latest updates regarding the new coronavirus outbreak-2019 also know as COVID-19. This disease has triggered a global level panic due to the number of deaths reported worldwide especially within the borders of China. World Health Organization has declared this as a global health emergency on January 30, 2020. This decision was taken after the initial cases of human-to-human transmission was confirmed outside of China.
The novel coronavirus of 2019 was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. This is a respiratory virus that tends to cause severe illness in the human respiratory system. The illness caused by this novel virus has now been officially named as the COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO). In this name the “19” stands for 2019 the year when it was identified, “COVI” stands for coronavirus, the “D” stands for the disease. The novel coronavirus itself is named “SARS-CoV-2”.
As of February 23rd, 2020, China has reported 2442 deaths and 76,936 infections (Source: Aljazeera.com).
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses including the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronaviruses. This family of viruses is also the reason for the common cold.
Coronaviruses commonly circulate in animals. Some of the coronaviruses have the ability to transmit from animals to humans. This is defined as the “Spillover event”.
What does the term “Novel Virus” mean?
The term “Novel Virus” means that this is a “New Virus” which has not been identified before in earlier years. Thus, COVID-19 currently does not have a cure. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses and coronavirus outbreak-2019 belongs one of them. It is essential to understand that this specific coronavirus is not similar to the coronaviruses which normally circulate among humans.
How does the coronavirus illness COVID-19 spread?
It was identified that this coronavirus initially started spreading from an animal source to a human (zoonotic), particularly from bats. But after this, humans who have not been in contact with animals also started getting infected which led the experts to believe that this respiratory virus has the ability to spread from person to person.
Thus, it is essential for the general public to be informed about the symptoms and the possible ways to protect themselves from getting infected.
What are the common symptoms of COVID-19 illness?
The common symptoms of this particular coronavirus can be identified as below. If a person is infected their initial symptom will be a fever. The fever will then be followed by a dry cough. In a week the patient will experience shortness in breath.
In more extreme cases the infection can also cause severe pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and even death. Most of the terminal cases were either suffering from underlying causes such as diabetics, hypertension or unable to cope with the infection due to old age.
It is commonly assumed that symptoms show up within 14 days of exposure to the coronavirus. But this is not confirmed and various sources state different incubation periods.
Anyone with the above symptoms should immediately go to the doctor for a thorough checkup.
How can you protect yourselves from getting infected?
Presently this novel coronavirus doesn’t have any cure. But by following the below preventative measures we can limit the possibilities of infection.
- Refrain from touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.
- Avoid being in close vicinity to other people who are infected by the coronavirus.
- Always have a tissue in hand to use during coughing and sneezing. Dispose of the used tissue in a proper manner.
- Wash hands with either soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which has at least 60% alcohol.
It is recommended to wash your hands up to 20 seconds after using the bathroom, sneezing, and coughing.
- There has been a common misconception that antibiotics medication can help us. But this is a FALSE Antibiotic medications work only against bacteria and not viruses.
Below are some of the other common myths surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. The Public should keep themselves updated regarding the latest developments and not fall prey for false news.
- Myth: Drying your hands using hand dryers will not kill the coronavirus.
Reality: You should always wash your hands using soap or an alcohol-based hand wash.
- Myth: Household pets such as dogs and cats can be a carrier of coronavirus
Reality: Currently there is no evidence to support the fact that cats and dogs can infect people with coronavirus. But as a good practice, it is always recommended to wash your hands after playing with or petting your pets.
- Myth: Thermal scanners can detect if you are infected with the virus
Reality: No, thermal scanners can only detect your body temperature. If your body temperature is high due to a fever the thermal scanner can detect it. But if you are infected with the coronavirus and haven’t developed a fever then the thermal scanner will not be useful.
In Sri Lanka, there was only one patient confirmed and identified with the COVID-19 illness. The patient was of Chinese nationality. She was then kept under continuous monitoring and care of the Sri Lankan healthcare professionals at IDH (Infectious Disease Hospital) for nearly a month.
The reported patient has fully recovered and discharged from the hospital on February 19th 2020. It was stated that the Chinese national will return to China to reunite with her family. She also thanked the medical professionals who took care of her during her treatment.
Currently, the COVID-19 illness is affecting 33 countries including South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Italy, USA, Germany, UAE, France, Canada, and the UK. It has also affected the “Diamond Princess” cruise ship which is harbored in Yokohama, Japan.
As of February 23rd 2020, 38 new cases have been reported in Italy, 16 new cases in South Korea, 4 new cases in Japan and 2 new cases in Taiwan have been reported. 18 new cases and 1 new death have been reported outside of the Hubei province in China as on February 22nd 2020. (Source: www.worldometers.info , https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries)