Parth Gaur1, Gitesh Saini2, Vinay Yadav2, Amandeep Singh3 and Amarjeet Bisla4*
1Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS), Hisar-125004, Haryana, India
2Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Obstetrics, LUVAS, Hisar-125004, Haryana, India
3Veterinary Surgeon, Department of Animal Husbandry, Jammu, India
4Division of Animal Reproduction, ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar-243122, UP, India
COVID-19/ Novel Corona virus
The 2019 novel corona virus (named as COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illnesses, ranging from common cold to acute respiratory syndrome. It can spread from person-to-person and was first identified in the 1st week of January 2020 during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. It belongs to the family of viruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
Point of emergence
Corona viruses are a large family of viruses which can cause illnesses in animals such as camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Similar to MERS and SARS, these coronaviruses can rarely infect people and then spread between people. Numerous studies in China report a link to an animal market in the city of Wuhan where the virus is suspected to have emerged from an animal source in this market.
Risk outside China
Although the virus originated in a small city in China, it is now rapidly spreading across the entire country. Moreover, several cases have been reported in 165 countries outside China (till 17 March 2020) such as the USA, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Italy, Iran, Spain, UK, France, India and Sri Lanka. According to data from the WHO as on 17 March 2020*, more than 1 lakh cases have been confirmed in 161 countries outside China which takes the global count to 1.8 lakh confirmed cases and more than 7150 deaths. WHO has assessed COVID-19 as very high risk across the globe including China.
Method of spread
According to the WHO and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the other corona virus MERS and SARS, spread through respiratory route via droplets which can be transmitted through a sneeze or cough. This suggests that the mode of transmission of the novel corona virus might be similar. Hence, transmission between people can occur through droplets, by coming in close contact with the patient or by sharing objects of personal use. However, the exact mode of transmission of the 2019 novel coronavirus is not known.
Signs and Symptoms-
According to the CDC, the patients suffering from COVID-19 have reported symptoms of mild to severe respiratory illnesses such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, pneumonia and diarrhoea and vomiting, in some cases. In severe cases, pneumonia in both the lungs is also seen (WHO was alerted following severe cases of pneumonia in Wuhan which lead to the identification of the novel corona virus), which can eventually prove fatal. The symptoms are mostly similar to flu and flu-like diseases caused by other respiratory viruses.
Preventive Measures to be Followed
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Stay at home and take sufficient rest
• Cover your mouth with tissue when you sneeze or cough
• Sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have access to tissue/handkerchief
• Discard used tissues in a bin
• Disinfect objects/surfaces you touch
• Seek medical attention in case of fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.
How do you differentiate between normal flu and coronavirus symptoms?
If someone comes with a respiratory disease, it is very difficult to distinguish between flu and coronavirus by just looking at the symptoms. This is the reason that makes diagnosis important. Your doctor may recommend lab tests (such as sputum and/or throat swab) to detect the virus and know if the symptoms are due to influenza virus, corona virus or other respiratory viruses. If you have a sore throat, it’s more likely a cold than ﬂu or coronavirus, in general.
Treatment and Vaccination
As of 17th March 2020, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the virus. The treatment in people infected with the coronavirus is aimed at relieving the symptoms and providing supportive care to the patient. Also, antibiotics work only against bacteria and not against viruses. As COVID-19 is a viral infection, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment till there is secondary infection. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19*.
Can a person infected with coronavirus recover completely and be no more infectious?
Yes, in fact, about 80% of people have recovered from the disease without needing special treatment.
Age susceptibility – There are reports of neonates, teenagers, young adults and older people falling prey to the new coronavirus in China. So, it goes without saying that people of all ages can be infected by the novel coronavirus. However, older people & those with pre-existing medical conditions might be more vulnerable to suffer from an infection and become severely ill.
Zoonosis of disease – At present, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats can get infected with the virus and lead to transmission to humans. However, it is always wise to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to lower the risk of infection.
Status of disease in India
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), as on 17th March 2020, there are 129 confirmed COVID 2019 cases across India. It is reported that 13 people have been cured of the disease and 1 person died from coronavirus.
Indian Government response to prevent coronavirus
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India has issued a helpline number (+91-11-23978046) to seek any help or solve any query related to coronavirus. The Government has also released helpline numbers of states & union territories for corona-virus.In case of any queries, you can also mail at the helpline Email Id for coronavirus– email@example.com. The Government has also appealed to passengers who have travelled to China since 1st January, 2020, to please come forward for self-reporting to the call centre and visit the nearest health facility if experiencing fever, cough or breathing difficulties, and also inform their doctor about the travel history.
Can wearing a medical mask all the time protect against Novel Coronavirus?
Simple medical masks can prevent your nose or mouth from coming in contact with infected droplets. But, not everyone needs to use a mask. WHO says that use masks only if you’re sick and have symptoms like cough or difficulty breathing. If you’re healthy and taking care of a person suspected of COVID-19 infection, you must wear a mask.
What should I keep in mind while using a mask?
Masks will be effective only if you combine its use with frequent hand-washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You must clean your hands before wearing a mask and after removing it. Ensure that your mask covers your nose, mouth and chin perfectly without leaving any gaps between your face and mask. Avoid touching the mask while using it. If you do, wash your hands immediately. Dispose of the mask in a closed bin. Remember to remove the mask from behind without touching the front of the mask.