These days we are facing an outbreak of disease around the world that is believed to be originated from a seafood market—which also sells wild animals—in Wuhan, one of the central Chinese cities. It is caused by a novel coronavirus which didn’t have a name until recently – Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The symptoms of this illness are pretty mundane yet similar to that of influenza (flu) virus: feeling short of breath, a dry cough that gets more severe over time, and a low-grade fever that gradually increases in temperature. It seems quite mild in lots of people and probably those people don’t end up in a hospital at all.
So far, we only know about the more severe cases which are where people have developed viral pneumonia. Those patients are obviously hospitalized and all the deaths have been among those people. The majority of patients are usually over 40 and the very youngest person diagnosed is about 13 or 14 years old. So it doesn’t appear to be affecting small children and those who have died tend actually to have underlying conditions. Those with poor health that may already have heart disease or cancer and so they’re most vulnerable to the virus. Basically, their immune systems are not very robust and they’re going to find it difficult to fight off a virus.
Transmission, Diagnosis and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019
Scientists have discovered that the new coronavirus is actually transmitted from one person to another. It was hoped at first that it just came from animals as all coronaviruses do, but now it looks like it is, in fact, a people-to-people transmission through respiratory droplets.
The coronavirus disease 2019 can be diagnosed similarly to other viral infections: using a blood, saliva, or tissue sample. In the United States, only the CDC currently has the ability to diagnose a Covid-19 infection; in Europe, 38 laboratories had implemented molecular diagnostics for Covid-19, which cover countries shown on the map in this paper.
In the meantime, Chinese AI company, Infervision, has reprogrammed a software that reads CT lung scans, which had primarily been used to detect cancer, to look for signs of pneumonia caused by coronavirus, as reported by Wierd.
There isn’t any treatment at the moment because this is a virus. Antibiotics won’t work because they only work against bacteria. People with Covid-19 should receive adequate care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment may include care to support vital organ functions until the body fights off the virus and recovers itself.
Number of people infected by Covid-19
“As of 25 February, the outbreak has affected 80,000 people globally. In mainland China there have been 2,663 deaths among 77,658 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei. More than 12,000 people affected in China have already recovered,ˮ Guardian reported. “The coronavirus has spread to at least other 30 other countries. The most badly affected include Japan, with 850 cases, including 691 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, and four deaths. Italy has recorded [nearly 400] cases and seven deaths, while South Korea has recorded 893 cases and eight deaths. There have also been deaths in Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Iran and the Philippines.ˮ
Situation in Italy
I have talked to an Italian resident, Marko Marjanovic, about the situation over there. This is what he told me:
The first time I encountered the Covid-19 situation was in Germany. In Vienna, I boarded the last plane to Stuttgart and felt a bit like in an post-apocalyptic movie. Almost every passenger in the front part of the plane worn a mask. What’s funny, though, nobody was wearing one on the flight to Milan.
After the first appearance of the virus in Italy, people were making jokes about it on social media. But when the number gone up to 32 infected and claimed one female victim in the region Veneto, where I live, people started looking at it more serously. In Sunday, the news told us the number of infected increased to 74 and that’s when the northen Italy started panicking! The next day shelves were empty in almost every store. People were rapidly stocking their homes with food supplies. However, on the streets nothing has changed – people are still smiling, drinking their wine and enjoy free days ‘thanks to coronavirus.’ In every public institution there’s a poster of the rules we have to follow in order to protect ourselves and our family, as well as stop spreading the disease, until the epidemic is over.
Fortunately, people are now less scared and the the panic has stopped! Everyone is going back to work, however, schools will remain closed until the March 1st.
Take a look at photos he posted on Facebook two days ago (empty shelves).
The next part is very important in such situations!
Let me put this situation in the right context. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) are both caused by coronaviruses that originated from animals. SARS, which was a novel coronavirus just like this one back in 2002, ended up causing global panic and that was mainly because nobody had ever seen such a disease before. Also, the death rate was at around 10 percent, but when we’re talking about Covid-19, a death rate is about 2 percent, which is a lot less and it does look as if many of those people actually have had underlying health problems. To put it in the right context, those people could equally have died of flu.
Follow these steps:
- Wash your hands and wear a mask.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Distance yourself from the person you talk to at least 1m and avoid crowds.
- If you notice flu symptoms—don’t go to the hospital—call your doctor!
- Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.