China recently reported an outbreak of a new virus which has so far affected over 800 people with viral Pneumonia, without any prior symptoms; this has led to 25 deaths in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province. As per latest reports, the virus has also travelled to South Korea, Thailand, and Japan. Panic-ridden conversations about Coronavirus are spiraling worldwide; in India, as per news reports, five persons have been quarantined and put under surveillance upon their return from China. Two have been kept in isolation for precautionary measures, however, state officials have cited that there is no immediate cause for concern.
Scientists, researchers and doctors are working on studying the virus also known as 2019-CoV; however, there is no vaccine that can treat Coronavirus, since this is a new strain that had previously not been identified in humans. Travelers need to be especially careful when travelling to, from and via China; representatives of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have requested passengers travelling from China to report to the nearest public health facility in case they start showing symptoms. Let’s understand this better:
WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that primarily target the respiratory track of mammals and humans. It can case a host of illnesses including simpler-to-treat issues such as sore throat, flu, and fever to more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), respiratory distress, cough, dry cough, gastrointestinal issues, diarrhea, and elevated fever are signs of an infection being contracted. Pneumonia may be diagnosed in more severe cases with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Kidney failure and even culpable of death.
PRECAUTIONS ONE COULD TAKE
If you have travelled to any of the affected countries in the last 14 days and show any of the above mentioned symptoms, notify your physician and share complete history. Ensure that you maintain standard precautions which include adequate hand and respiratory hygiene.
- Keep your environment clean at all times
- Wear a medical mask if any of the symptoms are prevalent
- Cover your nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing
- Wash your hands after contact with respiratory secretions
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold and flu symptoms
(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Anita Mathew, Consultant Physician & Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)