Introduction to 2019-nCoV or COVID-19
SummaryCoronavirus (CoV) is a large family of viruses that cause mild-to-severe illnesses, with common symptoms, such as cough and cold. The severe forms include Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel CoV (nCoV) is a new strain of virus that hadn’t been previously detected in humans. These viruses are zoonotic in nature, which means they are transmitted between animals and human patients.
The first outbreak of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, with an epidemiological link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where sale of live animals is conducted. After China's National Health Commission submitted reports, regarding the health condition of people and onset of the novel viral infection, to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, the WHO prompted the health authorities of the countries sharing boundaries with China to step-up border surveillance and raised concerns regarding the emergence of a novel and serious threat to public health. In January 2020, Chinese scientists successfully isolated a 2019-nCoV viral strain from a patient and performed genome sequencing, the results of which were later made available to the WHO, to facilitate laboratories in different countries to produce specific PCR tests for detecting the novel infection.
Thereafter, few instances have been reported in several other countries, including the U.S. In the current scenario, people residing in China or those who traveled there in the recent past are at the greatest risk of catching the infection.
Prevention from 2019-nCoV
Some of the common symptoms include common cold, fever, breathing difficulty, excessive tiredness, and muscle pain. However, these symptoms can be prevented by:
- Avoiding contact with animals, their excretions, and saliva
- Avoiding contact with sick people
- Avoiding visits to market places where animals are handled
- Regularly washing hands with soap and water
- Staying hygienic while traveling within or across countries
Facts about 2019-nCoV
- 2019-nCoV, named so by the WHO, is a β CoV of group 2B, with at least 70% similarity, in genetic sequence, to SARS-CoV.
- The estimated incubation period of the virus is 2-14 days, in case of transmission via respiratory drops.
- As of February 2020, 46,997 cases have been confirmed worldwide, out of which 46,550 were diagnosed in China alone.
- 1,368 deaths were reported in China, till February 13, 2020.
- Majority of the cases have been reported in males.
- About 40% of the 2019-nCoV patients in China were suffering from heart diseases.
- Till February 19, 2020, a total of 1,671 suspected patients have been tested, and three confirmed cases have been reported in India.
- The Indian government arranged for the evacuation of 366 Indian citizens from Wuhan, in a special Air India flight, on January 31, 2020. The passengers were quarantined for a period of 14 days.