It has been a month since a new strain of coronavirus leaped in China's Wuhan territory and continued to spread to more than 20 countries. And the epidemic wake, panic is published on universal social media.
As of January 31, the Wuhan coronavirus has contaminated more than 11,374 people and almost claimed 259 lives worldwide.
A team at the Wuhan Institute of Virology led by virologist Zheng-Li Shi is the first in the recording team to isolate and study this virus provisionally known as 2019-nCoV. The team isolated the virus from a 49-year-old lady, who stated symptoms of coronavirus on 23 December 2019 before getting critically ill. Shi's team found out that coronavirus kills the cultured human cells and enters them through the same molecular receptor as another coronavirus causing SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Another lab in Australia declared on 28 January that it had collected virus samples from an infected person who returned from China. A virologist at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands Labs in Germany reported that Hong Kong and France are also isolating and preparing to share virus samples obtained from local patients. These samples are obtained to study the pathogen's spread and progression.
In a press conference on 29 January, Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland said that it is necessary to collect coronavirus samples. As medicines and vaccines could only be tested on collected samples.
The condition is rapidly emerging. We have examined everything we could about this new virus, what research is saying and some of the steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting infected by this deadly coronavirus.
- What is coronavirus?
- Coronaviruses relate to a family known as Coronaviridae when observed under an electron microscope, they seem like spiked loops. Coronavirus reproduces by getting inside living cells and highjack the machinery. The spikes facilitate coronavirus to bind to cells. Then they turn the live cell into a virus factory using a molecular conveyor belt to produce more viruses and then ship them out of that cell. This virus's inhabitants now infect other cells and the cycle continues.
- How do researchers get to know that it is a new coronavirus?
- The researchers were able to visualize and genetically identify this unique coronavirus, using an electron microscope that resolves images of cells and their mechanisms.
- Understanding the genetic code enables researchers to create examinations that can recognize the coronavirus from a patient suspected of withholding the disease, and gives them possible penetration to create treatments or vaccines accordingly.
- How coronavirus spreads?
- This is still a concerning question for researchers as it is hard to find out what exactly causes this deadly virus to spread. The first epidemics were likely the result of animal-to-human transmission, but a recognition that human-to-human transmission has happened was taken in late January.
- The incubation phase, when the virus is developing in the body, can be 1 to 14 days and a patient does not even realize that they are infected. Though it must be stressed, specialists are not sure how contagious this period can be. According to the BBC citing Chinese officials, the virus can spread before symptoms appear.
- The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy stated that health workers in China are affected by the virus in late January. This results in a notable turning point, as health workers traveling between countries are prone to spread the disease.
- Is coronavirus infectious?
- These studies on the infectious behavior of viruses can be informative but not definitive as this is just an early stage of understanding the disease and its spread. Though researches indicate a potential for the disease to move from one individual to another, still shows not enough details on how exactly the virus spreads.
- China has hinted that the virus can spread before signs are seen. There was no proof for such cases so far but it does suggest that kids and adolescents could be infectious without showing any symptoms of coronavirus.
- What are the symptoms of this unique coronavirus?
- There seems to be a spectrum of sickness in identified patients, a large number experienced mild pneumonia-like indications, while others have a significantly more critical response.
- On Jan. 24, the medical journal The Lancet published a widespread study of the clinical characteristics of the disease.
According to the report, patients reported signs of:
Raised body temperature
1. Dry cough
2. Tiredness or muscle pain
3. Breathing complexities
Less common symptoms of coronavirus include:
1. Coughing up mucus or blood
As the disease grows, patients also experience pneumonia, congesting the lungs and causing them to fill with fluid. This can be recognized by an X-ray.
- Is there any treatment invented for coronavirus?
- During the Emergency Committee press conference on Jan. 29, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said that there is no identified curative against coronaviruses.
- But this doesn't mean vaccines are impractical to be invented. Chinese scientists were able to sequence the virus's genetic code quickly. This has allowed scientists to examine it and look for methods to fight the disease. According to CNN, researchers at the US National Institutes of Health are already studying a vaccine, though it could take a year or more away to release those for practice.
- Hence, the primary purpose of an outbreak associated with a coronavirus is to give enough provision of care to patients, especially in terms of respiratory and multi-organ support.
- How do you reduce your risk of coronavirus?
- The WHO recommends a variety of criteria to defend yourself from catching the disease and save yourself from the flu, based on good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene. This coronavirus spread and contaminates people somewhat differently from the flu, but the prevention steps are quite similar as it attacks the respiratory tract.
- It is also suggested to buy a face mask and protect yourself from catching the virus.
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