What started off as a mystery illness in Wuhan, China is now a confirmed new coronavirus. Recent reports coming from China show that the virus was traced back to a seafood & animal market in Wuhan. The virus is responsible for the deaths of 81 people and infecting countless others. It is not the worst news. Unfortunately, the virus spread to outside China including the US, France, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and Japan. 5 cases each are reported in the US, Australia, and Taiwan. Presently, it is suspected that the virus is now present in 13 countries.
Initially, scientists miscalculated by saying that the virus only spreads to humans from animals. However, it is not the case. Scientists are now confirming that human to human transmission of the virus is possible. The worst part of this outbreak is its timing. It is the time of the Chinese Lunar New Year and millions of people travel to China for celebrations. Not to mention the countless people travelling to their hometowns from within China.
China responded by putting almost 60 million people under lockdown. The Hubei province of which Wuhan is the capital is now under lockdown. Travel restrictions are in place and the Politburo Standing Committee is now taking control of the situation. Public transportation is halted, while roadblocks are in place to prevent entry exit from Wuhan. Moreover, tourist destinations are closed as well. Outside China, countries have set up screening centres to detect the virus among travellers. Furthermore, China is racing to build new hospitals to battle the virus as the present healthcare system is not enough to tackle the challenges.
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses which cause respiratory illnesses in humans. The viruses are responsible for diseases like:
- common cold;
- severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
Common symptoms among people with coronavirus include:
- runny nose
- sore throat
How is the Coronavirus Transmitted?
The coronavirus in humans is mostly transmitted through people already infected with the virus. Infected people can infect others through close personal contact. Therefore, touching or light touching can cause transmission from one person to the other. Coughing or sneezing in the air without covering yourself properly can cause the virus to spread among others. In addition to this, if the virus is an object or any other surface, simply touching it can cause infection. However, washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds can prevent infection.
How to Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus?
There is no vaccine available for human coronaviruses. In most cases, the person is able to fight off the virus. However, the virus is responsible for numerous deaths as well. The best you can do is to protect yourself by:
- using soap and water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds regularly (especially before eating, after toilet use; after coughing or sneezing, before & after preparing food; while caring for the sick)
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer in case soap & water are not available
- wear gloves
- avoid going out to crowded places
- maintain a safe distance (4-6 feet) between yourself and others
- wear surgical masks
- disinfect your most used objects or surfaces you come in contact with
- avoid coming into contact with people with fever or suffering from cough
- avoid going to animal market or touching animals
- do not eat or try to avoid raw or undercooked animal products
- avoid touching eyes or mouth with unwashed hands
While the above points talk about how to protect yourself, there is a responsibility on us for protecting others as well.
How to Protect Others?
If you suspect suffering any of the symptoms mentioned before, consult your nearest hospital. Meanwhile, do the following:
- avoid going outside
- avoid coming into contact with others
- cover yourself while sneezing or coughing
- regularly wash your hands
- disinfect your belongings
- wear a surgical mask and gloves
There is no vaccine for the coronaviruses. Mostly, people recover on their own. On an individual level, make sure to do the following:
- stay hydrated
- use over the counter medicine for fever & pain
If you feel your condition worsening, contact your nearest hospital right away. Furthermore, avoid travelling to China as it is the epicenter of the new coronavirus.