There is a new coronavirus strain that has spread over the past two months and it is now known as COVID-19. The strain was first faced in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and it has now spread over eighty countries across the world and infected 93,000 people, out of which 3,000 are reported dead.
People have begun panicking about this virus strain because it can cause pneumonia and once diagnosed there is no cure for it. Patients who have contracted COVID-19 are reported to suffer from cough, fever, and shortness of breath; severe cases have reported organ failure.
The pneumonia is viral, which means antibiotic medications are of no use and the antiviral drugs that are used for the common flu may not work too. It’s highly suggested that if you notice the initial symptoms, that is cough and fever, visit the hospital as soon as possible. This way you will get support for your lungs and other organs along with essential fluids that will help you recover; also, the speed of recovery depends on your immune system, and patients who have died due to COVID-19 were already suffering from poor health.
This strain of coronavirus was named COVID-19 on the 11th of February by the World Health Organization. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of WHO, mentioned that they had to find a name that didn’t point out any animal, geographical location, a person, or a group of people. The name should be easily pronounceable and had a clear relation to the disease. It’s important to have an impartial name so that other names don’t get stigmatized.
There is still more data that needs to be collected about COVID-19 that states how dangerous it is, and right now the mortality rate is around 2%. In comparison, the seasonal flu has a mortality rate below one percent and it is known to cause around four hundred thousand deaths annually, all over the globe. SARS had a death rate that rose to more than ten percent.
Another unknown point, that scientists are still figuring out, is how contagious COVID-19 is right now. The main difference between this strain and the common flu is there is no vaccine developed for it yet. This makes it difficult for vulnerable members of the population, specifically the elderly and patients who have immune/respiratory problems. It’s extremely important that you keep washing your hands whenever possible and avoid large crowds, especially if you feel unwell.
Another sensible precautionary step is to take a flu vaccine, this will reduce the load on health services if the outbreak turns into an epidemic in your area. COVID-19, just like other coronavirus strains, originated from animals and then spread to humans.
The patients who were initially affected by the virus worked or shopped in the Wuhan wet markets or seafood wholesale markets, which were located in the center of the city; this is also where live animals and newly slaughtered produce was sold. The health commission of China has confirmed that the virus can spread from animal to human and human to human contact as well.
When new and troubling virus strains originate they usually come from animal hosts. Ebola, the flu, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are caused by coronavirus strains that came from animals. In 2002, the SARS epidemic went pretty much unchecked and spread to thirty-seven countries. It caused a global hysteria, and the disease infected more than eight thousand people, out of which 750 were reported dead. The MERS disease was less contagious from human to human, but if a patient was diagnosed with it, they would be in more danger because it killed thirty-five percent of the 2,500 patients who were infected.