Researchers have now confirmed that COVID-19 can spread from human to human via respiratory droplets
Coronavirus (CoV) are zoonotic viruses, belonging to family Coronaviridae. These are single stranded RNA viruses, having genome of 26-32 kilobases in length. Identified in mid 1960s, infecting humans, cats, camels and birds, the various diseases caused by Coronavirus include common cold, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SERS-CoV), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).
During the previous outbreaks, MERS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012, while as, SERS-CoV, was transmitted from dromedary camels to humans in southern China in 2003. Together, above two have caused 1600 deaths. The most recently discovered coronavirus is named as SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus 2.
This new virus came to light when Chinese government informed WHO about large number of pneumonia cases of unknown reason on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan city of China.
The etiologic agent, a novel coronavirus now called SARS-CoV-2, was identified and characterized in China and the disease is now called COVID-19. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to MERS-CoV. An infection with coronavirus affects the respiratory system of mammals including humans
Most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, sore throat tiredness, runny nose, vomiting, joint pain, fatigue, diarrhea, phlegm and difficulty in breathing.
However, severe infection results in kidney failure, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and even death. Older people and others who are already having medical problems such as heart problems, diabetes and blood pressure are likely to develop serious illness.
Among all the above symptoms, fever was seen in 88% of infected patients, dry cough 68% followed by fatigue 38% and phlegm 33% of cases.
China has taken strict infection control measures such as isolation of exposed and suspected cases according to international standards, constantly updated the diagnosis and treatment process and carried out public education.
On 11 March, WHO declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as a pandemic; world is in the midst of serious health crisis due to COVID-19
Researchers have now confirmed that COVID-19 can spread from human to human via respiratory droplets, when infected persons cough or sneeze. People come in contact with these droplets and later on touch nose, mouth and eyes and that is how virus enters.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an incubation period for COVID-19 between 2 and 10 days, while as China’s National Health Commission (NHC) had initially estimated an incubation period from 10 to 14 days. 3.4% Mortality Rate estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of March 3.
According to the recent findings published in England Journal of Medicine, virus lives on cardboard up to 24 hours and up to 72 hours on plastic and steel. COVID- 19 is affecting the people of all age groups ranging from infants to old people.
However, first neonatal case of COVID-19 was observed in Wuhan city of China on 1 February, 2020. 21.9% deaths were observed in persons having age of 80 plus, while as 4.7% of fatality rate were observed in males and 2.8% in females. The major epicenters of COVID- 19 are China, Italy, Iran, Spain and France.
Till 19 December, globally, 219,345 cases of coronavirus have been reported, 8,969 deaths have occurred and 85,745 patients have been recovered. 3,245 deaths have occurred in China followed by 2,978 in Italy, 1,135 deaths in Iran, 638 in Spain, 264 deaths in France.
In India, COVID-19 is at stage 2, if it moves to stage 3, it will be fatal and inevitable. In India, 171 cases have been reported, while as 3 cases have been recovered.
In India, Maharashtra, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh are most effected states having 42, 25 and 16 cases of COVID-19 cases respectively. In India, test for COVID-19 is done at 57 government laboratories, 51 among them are controlled by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The test for COVID-19 is free. There are two types if tests are being done for COVID-19.In primary test sample of mucus or saliva is collected from patient’s nose or throat by health professionals.
While in secondary test, once a patient is confirmed through, sample is retested. Once patient comes out positive here as well. Doctors can say that patient is infected with SARS-CoV-2. Then the patient is kept under isolation in hospital and treated until patient recovers.
There are also some reports that some people who recovered from coronavirus are testing again positive in China and Japan. No current vaccine or anti-viral treatment for COVID-19 exists.
However, clinical trials to test for COVID-19 have started in US. Therefore, prevention of virus spread is paramount.
Recommended precautions needed to be taken such as washing of hands regularly, social distancing and prevent unnecessary touching of eyes, ears and nose.
Additionally, Serum Institute of India (SII) has collaborated with US- based Codagenix (Biotechnology Company), to develop a vaccine by 2022 in a project worth 300 crores.
Author is a research scholar, Department of Zoology, Aligarh Muslim University