What is COVID 19 ?

The whole world has slowed down, if not come to a standstill.

Anywhere you turn THIS is all that you hear or see or talk about.

Corona Virus Disease 2019. COVID 19. SARS-CoV-2.

It is no exaggeration that this novel disease has taken the world by storm.

But, what is this COVID 19?

How is this different from our common cold and flu?

How does it spread?

This article aims at answering some of the basic questions regarding this pandemic that has now become a global health security threat.

1. What is The Corona Virus?

A corona virus is a family of viruses which causes common cold and in severe cases, it can lead to respiratory illnesses, and gastrointestinal issues.

The more severe cases of Corona Viruses have led to Middle-Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the past.

Corona Virus Disease 2019 or COVID 19 is a strain of the corona virus family that has not been detected in the past IN HUMANS.

In December 2019, the first reported case of this novel disease appeared in the Wuhan district of China. It is suspected to have been transmitted from an animal to a human in a similar fashion that SARS and MERS witnessed.

Since then, the number of Corona Virus cases have spiraled up, shaking up the whole world from its routine lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 03/18/2020, there have been over 190,000 confirmed cases and over 7,000 deaths, all over the world.

2. HOW DOES THE CORONA VIRUS WORK?

Corona is Crown in Latin. The corona virus derives its name from its shape. Under a microscope, this virus has spikes all around, giving it a ‘crown’-like effect.

The spikes of the virus encompass the RNA strip contained within it. The virus, using its crown, latches on to the host that it attacks, slowly injects its RNA into the nucleus of the host cell and starts replication.

Image Courtesy: The Philadelphia Inquirer

The severity of the virus attack depends on several factors, one of which includes the location where it attaches itself.

The common cold and flu are also derived from the corona virus but are a less severe form of it.

The more severe cases like the COVID 19 corona viruses attach themselves higher up in the bronchial tubes and lungs, thus causing severe respiratory illnesses.

Since the COVID19 is a new gene with a new protein, immediate cure and vaccines are not available and are currently in the works.

3. HOW DOES THE CORONA VIRUS SPREAD?

The novel Corona Virus is spreading like wildfire. I’m sure this adage will change to spreading like COVID19 very soon.

The first form of transmission was zoonotic which means that the virus was transmitted from an animal to a human. After that, the increase in the spread was from person-to-person.

Early cases in China started in December 2019 and the number of recorded cases worldwide has shown a dramatic increase over the past couple of months.

The virus does not yet have a cause for spread, but is being suspected to get transmitted through droplets from coughing, and sneezing.

The virus is seen to manifest in a period of 2 to 14 days of exposure to the virus. This means that during this incubation period, the host may not show any symptoms of the disease but may still be a passive carrier of it.

4. HOW CAN WE HELP OURSELVES?

Researches believe the virus is spreading through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It is therefore very essential to maintain ethical sanitary practices at all times.

1. Wash/ Sanitize your hands at all times – Avoid shaking hands, having close contact with anyone and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap. (Please be mindful and turn off the tap while you do so. We don’t need another global crisis while trying to combat one.)

2. Refrain from indulging in public gatherings – Community spread is a key factor for exponential rise in COVID19 spread and it is our moral obligation to do the right thing.

3. Educate and spread awareness – Keep yourself updated about the latest information from credible sources and healthcare directives. It is also crucial to spread the right information amongst family and friends to inform them of the situation.

4. Stock up on all essential groceries, toiletries and medicines to avoid going outside.

5. And finally, don’t panic – As informative as social media is to a large extent, it can also be overwhelming at times to see EVERYONE talk about it. These are trying times and they call for implementing moral and social practices with a sane and panic-free mind.

Here are some healthcare directives that you SHOULD refer to for latest updates regarding the current situation and the future.

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

2. World Health Organization –
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Every country and every district has its own healthcare directive that reflects latest findings, precautionary measures and current statistics.

Stay updated and stay safe!

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