Gautam Guha, Agami Kalarab: Corona viruses were first discovered in the late 1960s. The earliest ones discovered were an infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and two in human patients with the common cold. The novel corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) is part of a family of viruses named for the effect created by spike proteins on their shells, or capsids. Think of how the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona (Latin for crown), appears during a total solar eclipse.
“Any vaccine for the (Novel) corona virus would focus on the antigenic viral spike proteins which look like a halo or crown of bulbous spikes for which the corona virus is named. This protein binds to the ACE2 receptor in our lung cells like a forged key to break in.”
As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with the novel corona virus can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever. It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. The World Health Organisation’s global risk assessment for Covid 19 is “high”. It is “very high” for China, the source of the outbreak.
On January 30, the WHO declared the corona virus outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”, or PHEIC, after initially deciding against issuing such an alert.
The infection is typically spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between two and 14 days, with an average of five days. The standard method of diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab. The infection can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia. After a spike in corona virus cases, India has put in place strict restrictions on inbound travel. The WHO has also declared it a pandemic after more than 300,000 confirmed cases and over 13000 deaths in 114 countries. India has suspended “all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas” until April 15.
The WHO has declared the corona virus epidemic as a global health emergency.
As per Union Health Ministry, there are total 341 confirmed corona virus cases in India. 24 have been discharged, while 6 have died. In an advisory, issued on March 10, the govt has advised citizens to avoid non-essential travel abroad in view of the fact that the corona virus has spread to over 100 countries. Now Government has strongly advised against travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, Japan, France, Spain and Germany. India has suspended e-visas issued to nationals of France, Germany and Spain. Cinema Halls will have to remain shut on Governments’ Orders in most of states. Film bodies decided to stop the production of films, TV shows and web series including the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Qutub Minar, all the National Monuments and Museums under the Archaeological Department of India will remain closed till 31 March.
In order to survive this tragedy, everyone has to follow regular etiquette. This epidemic has to deal with courage without fear. Washing hands with soap or sanitizer after consuming food daily, keeping distance from the diseased person.