What You Really Need to Know About Coronavirus!

The outbreak of Coronavirus has created a lot of tension and panic among people. The death toll has now gone up to 811 in China, and in India, Kerala is the first state to have reported positive cases of this deadly virus. Three people in Kerala have shown positive results for Novel Coronavirus (nCoV).  Amidst the tense and panicky situation, it is very important to take the necessary preventive measure to keep yourself safe from Coronavirus. So what is a Coronavirus and why is it lethal and alarming to our health?

What are the possible preventive measures that can be employed to prevent it? Let’s have a look.

What is Coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a group of viruses that are seen in animals such as bats, animals, and cats. Initially, coronavirus was only considered to be zoonotic but later reports showed that it can be transmitted from one human to another human as well. Coronavirus is transmitted from animals to humans either by direct contact with animals or by the natural process of mutation in genes. This is called spillover. The patient affected by coronavirus shows symptoms ranging from cough to cold and can even lead to death. The virus is surrounded by protein spikes around it and resembles a crown that gives it the name coronavirus. Once the virus invades the patient, the protein spikes attach itself to the cells of the patient and try to multiply and grow, thereby invading the body and attacking the immune system of the patient. 

The first case of coronavirus attack was reported in China, during the year 2003. It was called SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome). SARS- Cov is thought to have been transmitted from civet cats. SARS was epidemic and resulted in more than 8000 cases and affected almost 26 countries severely.  The second outburst of coronavirus infection was reported in 2012 in The Middle East. It was called MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome ) MERS-Cov is zoonotic and is believed to have been spread either from direct or indirect contact with dromedary camels. 35% of people affected by MERS have been reported to be dead. On 31st December 2019, a new type of coronavirus outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China. This new type of coronavirus was called novel coronavirus (nCoV). By February 9th, 2020, 37606 cases of novel coronavirus cases were reported by the Chinese government.

General Symptoms of Coronavirus

Coronavirus can show respiratory as well as gastrointestinal symptoms. The patient can show varying symptoms ranging from mild symptoms such as cold, shortness of breath,  cough, fever to severe symptoms like pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death. To date, there are no cure or vaccinations available for nCoV, which is why it is important to protect yourself from this virus. Several drugs such as ribavirin, interferon, corticosteroids, lopinavir-ritonavir were tested against Coronavirus but the results were not satisfactory. However, remedesivir and chloroquine have shown to inhibit nCoV in vitro. Remedesivir is a drug that is used to treat ebola in patients. It was also found to be effective in the treatment of SARS. However, remedesivir is now under study as an effective drug for the treatment of Novel Coronavirus and research works are now in progress.

How to Protect yourself from Coronavirus?

As there are no cure or vaccinations to treat Novel Coronavirus, it is important to take preventive measures to protect yourself and your loved ones from this deadly disease. Let’s take a look into a few preventive measures:

• Make it a practice to wash your hands frequently with hygiene soaps or alcohol-based sanitizer.  • When you make direct contact with animals, make it a point to wash your hands thoroughly with a sanitizer, preferably one with alcohol in it. • One of the best preventive steps that you can adopt is using face masks. Face masks prevent the entry of viruses into our bodies. Also, health workers and others taking care of sick patients should mandatorily wear face masks to avoid contracting this disease.  • Avoid meeting people with a strong respiratory illness such as coughing or sneezing. • In case you yourself are suffering from a cold or normal flu, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue while sneezing or coughing, and immediately dispose of the tissue.

The outbreak of coronavirus has created an atmosphere of stress, confusion and utter dismay amongst people. There are a lot of myths that are being spread around. Let’s bust a few of them.

• Myth 1 - nCoV affects older people.   Truth - nCoV affects people of all ages. People who are aged and people with preexisting medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart attacks are likely to be more prone to nCoV.     • Myth 2 -  Garlic intake and garlic mouthwash helps to prevent nCoV   Truth - There is no evidence supporting this statement. • Myth 3 - It is unsafe to accept packages from China.   Truth - nCoV does not survive long enough on materials like letters, packages or parcels.  • Myth 4 -  Pneumonia vaccinations can help prevent nCoV.  Truth - Pneumonia vaccinations do not help prevent nCoV. Currently, there are no vaccinations or cures available for nCoV. • Myth 5 - Application of sesame oil will help block nCoV.   Truth -  There are few harsh chemicals that help destroy nCoV on the surface but once you are infected by nCoV, these chemicals are ineffective when applied on the skin. •  Myth 6 -  nCoV can be transmitted through pets such as dogs and cats.   Truth - There is no evidence supporting the statement that nCoV can be transmitted through domestic animals such as dogs or cats. But take precautionary measures to protect yourself from other bacterial infections. • Myth 7 - Antibiotics help prevent nCoV.   Truth -  Antibiotics fight or destroy bacterias only. nCoV is a virus. Therefore antibiotics are of no help to fight nCoV. 

There are no treatments or vaccinations for novel coronavirus but with the right knowledge, a disciplined lifestyle, a strict routine and standard hygiene measures, we can combat novel coronavirus to a certain limit. Let's join our hands, stand united and work hard to unleash the world from the terror it's now facing.