Outbreak of a new virus – 2019-nCoV
Symptoms, Source, Testing, Treatment and Prevention
What is the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Novel coronavirus, named as 2019-nCoV by the WHO is a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA coronavirus first identified during mid-December 2019 in the city of Wuhan in central China. It was reported in an emerging cluster of people with pneumonia of unknown cause, linked primarily to stallholders who worked at the Huanan Seafood Market, which also sold live animals. Chinese scientists subsequently isolated a new coronavirus, designated 2019-nCoV, which is at least 70% similar in gene sequence to SARS-CoV.
The coronavirus (2019- nCoV) is said to be novel as its a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
* SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was a virus identified in 2003 was is thought to be an animal virus from an as-yet-uncertain animal reservoir, perhaps bats, that spread to other animals. The first infected humans were found in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms like
ii. shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
iv. sore throat
v. runny nose
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
These viruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted from animals to humans.
While the exact source (i.e. the animal from which it started) of 2019-nCoV is not yet known, other strains of coronoviruses have previously been seen to be transmitted from civet cats to humans (in the case of SARS-CoV) and from dromedary camels to humans (in the case of MERS-CoV).
According to WHO Western Pacific, information about newly reported 2019-nCoV infections suggests there may now be sustained human-to-human transmission. But more information and analysis are needed on this new virus to understand the full scope of human to human transmission and other important details in this matter.
On 15 January 2020, the WHO published a protocol on diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV, developed by a virology team from Charité Hospital in Germany.
Currently, there is no specific cure for this new pneumonia like virus . Since it is a new illness, there is no vaccine, and it will likely take years before one is developed. Infected patients should treat symptoms the same way they would a cold — with rest, pain or fever medication and plenty of fluids.
Global cases reported
As of 21 January 2020, 285 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported from four countries including China (278 cases), Thailand (2 cases), Japan (1 case), United States (1 case), Taiwan (1 case) , Macau (1 case) and the Republic of Korea (1 case)
India on Alert
No case of Coronavirus has been reported in India so far. India has stepped up monitoring of passengers arriving from China, especially from Wuhan. The government has directed screening of passengers arriving from China and Hong Kong at seven airports including at Bengaluru, for symptoms of Coronavirus (nCoV) disease. Thermal screening at international airports has been initiated according to the official press release. This request was made in keeping with the guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The government has also issued a travel advisory to its citizens, particularly for the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, where 500 Indian medical students are studying. Many of those students, however, are believed to have returned to India in recent days ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Asia’s busiest travel period when hundreds of millions are expected to be on the move.While majority of the Indian students left for home on Chinese New Year holidays, over 250 to 300 students are said to be still in the city and its surrounding areas. India has earlier issued travel advisories to Indians travelling to China in view the coronavirus, the Indian Embassy here in the last few days has set up hotlines for the students in Wuhan to extend assistance and has talked to local officials about proper supply of food and other necessities for them.
An Indian woman working in China is believed to be the first foreigner to have contracted the disease. Preeti Maheshwari, 45, a teacher in an international school, was admitted to a local hospital in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city, after falling seriously ill last Friday with pneumonia-like symptoms.
As per WHO, you should observe the following precautions:
i. Avoid close contact with live or dead farm and wild animals
ii. Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
iii. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products and handle raw meat and milk with care.
iv. Wash hands frequently, especially if there is a direct contact will ill people or exposure to their environment
v. If you have symptoms of acute respiratory infection, you should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover cough and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing and wash hands).
vi. If you are visiting a live animal market, a wet market or any animal product market, practice general hygiene like regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products.
vii. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands and avoid any contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products.
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This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.
The portal of WHO has been the source for this article.