Lately, the globe has been menaced by an outbreak of the Novel coronavirus, also popularly referred to as the Wuhan coronavirus, from China and gradually spreading to other countries. It is suspected to have come from a seafood and meat market in Wuhan, China - hence its name “Wuhan” coronavirus - in December, 2019, when the earliest reported symptoms occurred and later confirmed and identified as the Novel coronavirus in January, 2020. The market sold live and freshly killed animals.
This SARS look-alike coronavirus belongs to the family of viruses that are zoonotic and known for containing strains that cause potentially deadly diseases in mammals and birds. Coronavirus is first described in detail in the 1960s, and gets its name from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the image of the virus looks like a solar corona.
In addition to the Wuhan coronavirus (or Covid-19), other human coronaviruses have included:
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS virus, which first occurred in the Guangdong province in southern China and was recognised as a distinct strain of coronavirus in 2003. The source of the virus has never been clear, though, civet cats were suspected.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS virus, which was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. An animal source for the virus has till date not been officially confirmed, though evidence points to dromedary camels as a potential reservoir of the infection.
Although genetic analyses show a close resemblance of the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, but it is not the same.
There are several other known coronaviruses circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Signs and Symptoms of Wuhan Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Unlike MERS and SARS, the Wuhan coronavirus is usually fairly mild. It can take longer for symptoms to develop. Symptoms may include:
A mild cough.
Shortness of breath.
A runny nose.
A sore throat.
Infected patients can also be asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any of the symptoms above, despite having the virus in their systems.
So far, only 15 to 20% of cases have become severe. Those with weakened immune systems may develop more serious symptoms, like pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney failure and even death.
The time from exposure to onset of symptoms (incubation period) is generally 2 to 14 days, but it may be contagious during this period and after recovery.
Causes of Wuhan Coronavirus
Humans first get a coronavirus from contact with infected animals. Then, it can spread from infected human to uninfected human. Though, the animal that caused Wuhan coronavirus is still officially unknown.
In humans coronaviruses are typically spread via airborne droplets of fluid produced by infected individuals.
The Wuhan coronavirus can be spread when one human comes into contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids - just like other coronaviruses - such as droplets in a cough. It might also be caused by an unwashed hand dipped in the mouth or nose, or rubbed against the eyes after touching an infected surface previously touched by an infected person.
If you feel you may have a coronavirus, you should visit your doctor immediately. Before visiting your doctor’s office, alert your doctor that you are visiting and why. This will enable the office to prepare and perhaps isolate patients to prevent the spread of infection.
To diagnose you, your doctor will run tests to rule out other common infections. A test, analyzing respiratory specimens and serum isolated from the blood can be helpful but its specificity and veracity for the virus are still being verified.
How can Coronavirus be Treated?
There is no known treatment for it yet. The victims can only be given supportive care and preferably, hospitalization to obtain appropriate care.
Symptoms of a coronavirus usually go away on their own. If symptoms feel worse than a common cold, see your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe pain or fever medication. As with a cold, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.
Can Coronavirus be Prevented or Avoided?
There are currently no vaccines for coronavirus. Ways of preventing coronavirus include:
Cover your mouth or nose anytime you cough or sneeze with tissue and dispose of preferably in the bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub, and avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
If you show symptoms of a coronavirus (cough, fever, shortness of breath), tell your doctor right away, and fill your doctor in on your recent travel history.
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
If you visit an animal market where a coronavirus outbreak is suspected, avoid animals and any surfaces they may have touched.
Make sure any animal product you use in meals is fully cooked. Handle raw meat carefully.
If you are traveling to an area where the a coronavirus is present, speak with your doctor first.
What is being done to stop it from spreading?
Scientists are working on a vaccine but have warned that one is unlikely to be available for mass distribution before 2021.
Chinese authorities have effectively sealed off Wuhan, and have placed restrictions on travel to and from several other cities, affecting some 60 million people.
The move was meant to "resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spread" and protect lives, the central city's special command centre against the virus said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
At the time of writing, numbers of infected are still on the rise, with a number of deaths having been reported. 45,211 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed (8,216 serious or critical), 1,118 deaths have been attributed to the virus since the first confirmed death on 9 January, with 4,865 recoveries.
As of 12 February 2020, WHO officially named the popularly called Wuhan coronavirus (or coronavirus, as called by the media) as Covid-19. The search for the animal origin of Covid-19, also referred to as 2019-nCoV is ongoing. Several vaccine approaches and antivirals are being investigated.
....making effort to "STAY WELL"