Coronavirus – a Global Health Emergency


Coronavirus, a family of viruses that causes infection in your respiratory organs came into news with an outbreak which started in Wuhan, the 9th most populous city of China. The first case of n-Coronavirus was reported on 31st December, 2019 and since then more than 17000 people have been infected and 200 plus people have lost their lives as claimed by Chinese health authorities. Recently, the first fatality outside China was recorded as a man from Philippines succumbed to the infections caused by the virus. 

What is n-CoV?

n CoV or novel coronavirus is a newly discovered strain of the corona family. It was confirmed to be contagious on 20th January,2020. The origin of this virus is still a million-dollar question but WHO finds the seafood market in Wuhan to be the primary source of the outbreak, with the virus reportedly to have been transmitted from bats. According to WHO, the symptoms include runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough, fever and shortness of breath.

Is this the first Coronavirus attack?

No, previously in November 2002, another coronavirus which causes a pneumatic disease, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) began spreading rapidly around the globe killing 800 people out of which approximately 350 were Chinese. The epicenter of this outbreak was also China.
Another case of MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) could be seen when the outbreak started in South Korea in 2015. The outbreak lasted for about 2 months killing 38 people.
The N-CoV that is being spread now has been classified as less intense than the 2002 SARS outbreak but more intense than the H1N1 Swine Flu outbreak. 

How far has the virus spread?

As of 1st February 2020, we have more than 17,300 confirmed coronavirus infections and 362 deaths, as the virus continues to spread globally. Approximately 200 more cases of the infection have been confirmed by the WHO in 18 other countries with 1 casualty. Most international cases include the people who have been to Wuhan or those who have travelled to China in the past month.

What is being done to tackle nCoV?

An ‘unprecedented outbreak’ has been met with an ‘unprecedented response’ according to the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. China has taken the support of the World Health Organization to control the spread of this virus. 
Many countries have hailed the steps taken by China to contain the virus but at the same time have imposed many travel restrictions in the form of travel bans to China and denials to accept people, even their residents who had visited China. 
  • The island nation, Singapore, with 16 confirmed cases, became the first country to announce closing of its borders for Chinese visitors and other foreigners who have been to China in the past 14 days.
  • Mongolia which shares its borders directly with China has also declared to close its borders until March 2, 2020.
  • Russia, the largest country in the world, shares a 2600 mile long border with China has closed the borders on January 30,2020 and has also suspended all commercial flights to China.
  • In Australia, the people who are coming from China are being isolated in Christmas Island, an island which has been used as an asylum to keep mentally unstable people. This step taken by Australia has received a backlash from the people in Australia as well as other global authorities.
  • India, recently with the help of the airline Air India lifted 366 people from Wuhan who will be isolated in Delhi-NCR camps. Further, India has seen 3 confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus up till now, all in Kerala. 
The Foreign Ministry of China announced on Friday that China will send charter flights to bring home the overseas citizens from Wuhan.

What can we do to avoid the virus being transmitted?

There is no vaccine for coronavirus hence, the best way to treat coronavirus is to alleviate the symptoms. The other methods which can be taken up to avoid getting infection are:
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are infected.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Avoiding raw or undercooked meat
  • Wearing masks 

How Has the Coronavirus affected the economy?

  • Last year’s growth of China was the country’s weakest in the past 3 decades (one reason being US-China trade war) and this outbreak could make it even worse this year. Economists say that China’s growth rate could drop by almost 2 percentage points in this quarter which constitutes approximately $62 billion. 
  • The tourism industry faced a multi-billion-dollar setback when the Lunar New Year festival has to be postponed. 
  • Following the outbreak, all the major stock exchanges around the world saw a drop as restrictions had been imposed on almost every major sector.
  • In China, every sector has taken a hit except the food delivery sector which has witnessed a boom owing to the mass lockdown in the Wuhan city. 

Conclusion

Any new deadly pathogen inevitably gives rise to panic. But experience with other epidemics has shown us that a targeted approach can contain and arrest the spread of a virus—even more effectively than sweeping quarantines. As WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”

- Written by: Rohit Upadhyay
- Edited by: Purav Nayak


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Coronavirus – a Global Health Emergency  Coronavirus – a Global Health Emergency Reviewed by EMN on February 05, 2020 Rating: 5

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