Don’t panic….. instead, take precautions for avoiding infection with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Human Coronavirus has been the most heard word in the world in recent times, because of its outbreak which was recognized in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Human coronavirus is usually considered for causing the common cold in otherwise healthy people. However, in the 21st century the two highly pathogenic human Coronaviruses which are Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS- CoV) emerged from the animals sold for foods, they are suspected to be reservoirs to cause Global epidemics with a high rate of morbidity and mortality. Because of the recent outbreak in China, human Coronaviruses received more attention.
In December 2019, pneumonia cases of unknown cause emerged in Wuhan, China with clinical presentations resembling viral pneumonia. After the proper analysis of the lower respiratory tract samples, indicating a novel coronavirus, it was named as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ (2019-nCoV).
Mode of Spread:
The initial spread is thought to be from animal to man, as the first identified infected individuals were workers at a seafood market. But later spread to a few individuals with 2019 novel Coronavirus indicated a person to person spread similar to influenza and other respiratory pathogens’ spread. It is thought to have happened mainly by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Common symptoms reported are:
- Dry Cough
- Shortness of breath
- Blood while coughing, chest pain
- Sometimes diarrhea
Severe infection can result in pneumonia, kidney failure, and death.
How is the diagnosis made?
Any person fulfilling the epidemiological and clinical criteria should be tested for 2019-nCoV.
Epidemiological criteria: Any person with travel-history to Wuhan City, China in the 14 days before the onset of illness OR Any person being in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of 2019 novel Coronavirus, 14 days before the onset of illness.
Clinical criteria: Any person with clinical symptoms compatible with severe acute respiratory infection seeking healthcare or admitted to hospital with clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia OR Any person with fever or recent history of fever (>=38°C) and acute respiratory infection (sudden onset of respiratory infection with one or more of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, cough or sore throat)
Diagnosis is made through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens and serum (blood). The specific test currently recommended by WHO for the diagnosis and confirmation of 2019-nCoV is by real-time RT-PCR.
Currently, there is no specific treatment recommended for the respiratory illness caused by the ‘2019 novel coronavirus’. Symptomatic treatment is given to help relieve symptoms. Support for the vital organ function should be given in severe cases.
How can you protect yourself?
- Washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water when you come home from the outside is advisable.
- You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes and nose repeatedly.
- Covering your nose and mouth while you cough or sneeze with tissue is advisable
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
- It is advisable to stay at home when you are sick so that you don’t spread germs to others.
- It is necessary to clean and disinfect objects and surfaces frequently.
- Avoid huge gatherings and crowded places.
- People with other chronic medical conditions, elderly, infants and children need to be given special protection and care
- Pregnant women too need to take extra precautions to avoid the infection with Corona Virus
Avoiding exposure to the virus is the best way of prevention.
Currently, there is no vaccine for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Trails are going on for the same.
– Dr. Y. Alekhya.