Coronavirus 101: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Introduction

WHO has declared corona virus situation as a pandemic one. Thousands of people have already died due to this outbreak.

More than 3000 people have died in China and the countries like Italy, Spain, Germany and many more are not far behind.

According to CNN, more than 225,500 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection all over the world. Coronavirus has spread in more than 150 countries and territories.

Coronavirus Cases: 3,94,000+

Deaths: 17,000+

Recovered: 1,03,000+

More than 50 million people remain under lockdown in different cities all over the world. Almost every international research lab is trying to develop a vaccine and stop the spreading of coronavirus. These groups of viruses have come as a curse to mankind.

Even in India, there are more than 170 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection along with 4 deaths.

This virus usually causes some mild respiratory illnesses like flu and the common cold. But there are some rare forms of this virus such as SARS and MERS coronavirus which have already done some serious damage across different countries.

The SARS coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), had caused an outbreak during November 2002 and July 2003 in southern China, where more than 774 people had died in 17 countries. Whereas the MERS coronavirus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or Camel Flu) had caused more than 1200 deaths in 26 countries and now the Novel Coronavirus, 2019 nCoV, causing the current outbreak is lethal.

What is Coronavirus?

The name has been derived from the Latin word Corona that means crown or Halo (that is the characteristic appearance of the virus particles) and the virus resembles a royal crown.

Coronavirus is a type of Single-stranded RNA virus, whose genomic sizes range from 26-32 kilobases (largest for an RNA Virus). This enveloped virus (some viruses have a cover or envelope that protects their protein capsids) belongs to the genus Betacoronavirus under the virus family Coronaviridae, under the order Nidovirales.

Now, the type of coronavirus we are more concerned about today is novel coronavirus (2019- nCoV) informally named as Wuhan Coronavirus, which has been reported by Chinese authorities on January 1, 2020. This Wuhan coronavirus had not been identified previously and is a new member of the Coronavirus (Coronaviridae) family.

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Symptoms of Coronavirus

For a confirmed 2019-nCoV (Wuhan coronavirus) infection, sometimes people show little symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath or no symptoms at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms of coronavirus infection can appear 2-14 days after exposure.

For some people coronavirus has created symptoms like upper respiratory infections as runny nose, sore throat, fever or runny nose. You even won’t know if you have coronavirus or any other cold-causing virus. 

Now if coronavirus spreads to the lower respiratory tracts of your body like in your windpipe or lungs then it can cause pneumonia or even heart disease.

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Spreading of Coronavirus

Similar to other respiratory illnesses, Novel coronavirus also spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing that contains mucus, saliva or other droplets of body fluids. The droplets can come directly from people to other people or can even infect people who pick the droplets by touching the surface where the infected droplets are. Coronavirus can spread between passengers or via surface like plane-train-other public transport seats and armrests.

All groups of coronaviruses have proteins on their surface. They push these surface proteins on to the cells they are infecting. Though the longevity of survival of the coronavirus on surfaces is not known, in the case of most of the viruses, they can survive between a few hours to months.

According to Chinese health authorities, the incubation period of coronavirus can be from 1-14 days before the symptoms appear and it can be transmitted even before the symptoms appear in someone.

Spreading of coronavirus
Image Courtsey : NYTimes
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Can you be immune to the new Coronavirus?

Generally, this virus that spreads quickly comes with a lower mortality rate. Since corona virus is an entirely new strain, there is no existing vaccine or immunity known to the medical world all over the globe.

Recent Update: The government health officials of the USA have announced on March 16, that they have come up with a vaccine for CoVid19 and given a dose to a healthy volunteer in Seattle. It is a phase 1 trial that will be tested on only 45 individuals, and the volunteers will be given different doses of this experimental vaccine. But still, this vaccine is in the initial experimental stage and it will need at least 12 to 18 months to develop for the public.

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How can you protect yourself from Coronavirus?

As we know there are no vaccines to prevent coronavirus, the best way to prevent the infection from spreading is to avoid exposure to the virus. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), just taking a few preventive actions like hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and some safe food practices can inhibit the spreading of Coronavirus.

1. Wash your hands frequently with any alcohol-based hand sanitizers or soap and water.

2. Carry tissues and in case of coughing and sneezing, do not forget to cover your mouth and nose with it. Throw these tissues immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands.

3. Avoid close contact with someone who has a cough or fever.

4. Seek medical care if you have a cough and breathing difficulty with fever, and remember to share your travel history with the doctor.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouths frequently.

6. Avoid unprotected contact with any animals.

7. Avoid the consumption of any raw or under-cooked animal products. Remember to use different chopping boards and knives for cooked food and raw meats.

8. Wear protective gowns, gloves, and facial masks whenever you step outside and even while working especially in wet markets.

9. In case you have a fever or cough avoid traveling completely. If you become sick while traveling immediately seek medical care.

10. Do not spit in public.

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Treatment of Coronavirus

In the past 20 years, coronaviruses has caused three major outbreaks in humans, SARS in 2002, MERS in 2012 and the ongoing Wuhan Coronavirus which is spreading through China and all over the world.

There is no specific treatment that has been found for this coronavirus outbreak. There is a drug named ‘Remdesivir’ developed by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences was initially used to treat Ebola in 2014-2015 might be effective to treat coronavirus infections. But no regulatory bodies have been approved Remdesivir yet.

There are some other options also. In the case of the SARS outbreak back in 2003, the combination of two antiviral drugs (those were generally used to treat AIDS) ‘Lopinavir’ and ‘Ritonavir’ were used. These combinations are now being tested in patients suffering from coronavirus infections. 

To treat Wuhan coronavirus infection an antivirus is highly necessary, but scientists are trying to create a universal corona virus vaccine.

Recent Update: According to medical authorities in China, a drug that is mostly used in Japan to treat a new strain of influenza may be effective on corona virus patients. An official of China’s science and technology ministry has said that ‘Favipiravir’ that is developed from a subsidiary of ‘Fujifilm’ provided an outcome in clinical trials on more than 300 patients in Wuhan and Shenzhen. 

The patients who have been given the medicine turned negative after a median of only 4 days, whereas people who haven’t been treated with this drug turned negative after a median of 11 days. X-rays have confirmed lung improvements in more than 90% of patients, who were treated with ‘Favipiravir’.

As this drug ‘Favipiravir’ was originally intended to treat flu, it will need government’s approval to treat the CoVid 19 patients. So the drug will be available for public use as early as May.

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Countries and Territories with the Maximum Confirmed Cases of Corona Virus

According to WHO, there are 225,724 confirmed cases of coronavirus has been found globally.

 

CountriesConfirmed Cases
China80928
Italy35713
Iran18407
Spain17147
Germany13083
USA9464
UK2626
Pakistan380
India197
coronavirus world spread
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Steps taken by the Countries to Control Corona virus

Coronavirus has taken the form of the epidemic now and almost all the countries are struggling to control the spreading of it. The CDC has declared a level 4 warning on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and asked travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. 

Countries are trying to seize and protect themselves from this Novel coronavirus outbreak. Almost every nation is isolating the suspected patients and monitoring their contacts. 

Americans flown home from China, will be “temporarily housed” on a special air base in California. Evacuated Australians from Wuhan will be quarantined on an island for at least 2 weeks.

Countries are also asking people to postpone their trip to China and banning every flight to and from mainland China. They are also closing the borders to the visitors who have been in China during the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak.

Though the WHO has said that limits on travel and trade are not necessary to control the spreading of coronavirus, many countries are still having travel restrictions on China.

Australia has declared to ban entry to anyone arriving from the mainland of China (except Australian citizens, residents and family members and aircrew). It also suspended any travel to mainland China.

Canada has asked its citizens to avoid any unnecessary travel to China.

Egypt has suspended every flight to and from China indefinitely.

Finland also canceled all flights between them and China from Feb 6 to Feb 29.

France asked its citizens not to go to China. Japan has taken the same path.

Indonesia also temporarily banned flights to and from mainland China for now.

India has declared a ban on persons with a Chinese passport and persons who reside in China and have an electronic Visa to India.

Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Netherlands, North and South Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Spain, UK, Vietnam, and many other countries have provided either a travel ban or temporarily closed their borders for Chinese citizens.

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Expert Speak on Coronavirus

Dr. Vibhu Kawatra in an exclusive conversation with Zotezo on the Coronavirus.

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Products to Keep Handy to Avoid Spreading of Corona virus

There are some products you should keep handy at the time of corona virus spreading. Let’s check them.

1. Hand wash

Hands are the main pathway by which corona virus can enter your body. Keep a hand wash with you and wash your hands frequently with it. WHO has provided a hand washing guideline. You should wash your hands for at least 20 SECONDS every hour.

  • Take a palm full of hand wash (or any other soap) in your cupped hand.
  • Cover the entire hand surface with the soap.
  • Rub your hand’s palm to palm.
  • Rub the left dorsum with your right palm.
  • Then repeat it for your right dorsum.
  • Do not forget the skin between your fingers.
  • Remember to clean the tip and back of your fingers.
  • Rub your thumb in rotation to clean it thoroughly.
  • Wash your hands with clean water.
  • Dry your hands.

2. Hand Sanitizer

For the time, when soap and water are not available, keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you all the time. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol in it. Take enough products on your cupped hands that can cover the complete palm. Rub the palms together for 20 seconds. Rub the dorsum and skin between your fingers. Do not wipe the sanitizer before it’s dry. But remember hand sanitizer won’t work on your hands when they are visibly dirty. Try to wash your hand with soap and water as soon as you can.

3. Face Masks

According to WHO, you don’t need a face mask if you are healthy. Just wear a mask if you are a medical professional and taking care of any 2019-nCoV patients. Wear a mask positively if you are coughing or sneezing. Make sure that your mask covers your mouth and nose completely, and do not touch your mask often.

  • Before putting on the mask, remember to clean your hand with soap and water or any alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Put on your mask properly.
  • DO NOT TOUCH YOUR MASK! Remember to wash your hands if you do.
  • Remember to replace your mask as soon as it is damp or dirty.
  • Remove your mask from the behind and discard it in a closed bin.
  • After removing the mask wash your face and hands thoroughly.

4. Stock Medicines and Groceries

Corona virus spreads through contact. Try and avoid getting out of your house as much as you can. Stock at least a month’s supply of medicines that you need daily. Check your pantry, try to stock at least 2 weeks of groceries in your pantry. Stock dried lentils, cereals,, bread, flour white rice, pasta, garlic, onions, dried foods, canned vegetables, and other stack able items in your home.

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Conclusion

Coronaviruses are Zoonotic (they can transmit between animals and humans). The most common signs of this infection include fever, cough, respiratory problems and other symptoms of the common flu.

Don’t panic if you are having any of these symptoms, just go to your healthcare provider and remember to share your travel details. Remember to wash your hand thoroughly, cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. And try to avoid close contact with any person with respiratory illness.

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