Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by World Health Organization. Therefore, it is necessary for the general public to realize the seriousness of the situation, and for the government to take effective measures to prevent the spread of disease.
A pandemic refers to disease; in this case Coronavirus, which spreads over a vast geographic area, and can affect a major proportion of population. Coronavirus, has to date spread to 127 countries with 21 confirmed cases in Pakistan, and the total number of cases going upwards of 138,000 worldwide.
Where did it all start?
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan, Hubei a province of China in December 2019. Since then, China has reported over 80,000 cases and some 3,100-plus deaths caused by the complications related to the virus.
As per reports, the virus has zoonotic origins, meaning that it is an infectious disease spreading from non-human animals to humans. Even though there is no consensus as to which specie exactly did the virus transmit from to humans, a live animal market in Hunan, China is believed to be the source of virus spread.
The disturbing bit is that it a contagious virus which can easily transfer from one person to another, therefore, the need to quarantine.
A pandemic can easily create panic among masses due to its fast-spreading nature. However, panicking only worsens the situation because it diminishes rational-thinking and quick decision-making abilities needed to curtail spread of disease.
In order to help people understand the gravity of the matter and how they can keep themselves and those around the safe in amid the outbreak we have decided to answer some of the pertinent questions most would have.
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
The typical Coronavirus symptoms include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Interestingly, the very symptoms are associated with commonly occurring flu. Then how does one distinguish whether or not the symptoms are of COVID-19?
Travel history can play a key role in determining whether or not one needs to be tested for the new virus. Anyone having visited China, the epicenter of the outbreak is most certainly the highest risk candidate for the infection. Moreover, considering the sharply rising numbers of Coronavirus cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea having visited any of these countries can also be factored in.
How does the virus spread?
The virus has a person-to-person transmission method according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But it can also spread through coming in contact with contaminated surfaces. Therefore, it is crucial to cover one’s mouth with a tissue paper or the elbow when coughing or sneezing because droplets containing the virus can get sprayed on surfaces or inhaled by someone standing in the 3-feet radius.
To minimize the risk of catching the disease from contaminated surfaces is a must to regularly wash hand with anti-bacterial soap or with the aid of an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
It is also advised to avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Incubation period for the Coronavirus?
On average it can take up to 5 days for the symptoms to show, but scientists have said in some cases it can far more days for the symptoms to truly become visible
As per WHO reports, the incubation period for the virus is 14 days, and there are slimmer chances of it spreading from one person to another when people are asymptomatic, and highest when the symptoms begin to show.
As per protocol, anyone who might have visited countries with the worse outbreak must self-isolate even when asymptomatic or contact health services as soon as symptoms show.
Who is most at risk?
World Health organization has estimated the mortality rate of the virus to be 3.4%. However, the low mortality rate does not mean that the virus can be taken lightly. It may not be causing dreadfully high number of deaths, but it affecting people at an incredible rate with patients needing to be quarantined.
The ones at high risk are older adults and people with underlying health conditions. However, this does not means that the younger population is not getting affected by the virus. Children as young as 10 years are catching the virus, indicating that the virus is not entirely age-bound it can affect children, young and older adults alike.
Precautions to take?
The need to take precautionary actions cannot be stressed enough, considering that there is no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19). WHO and the Centers for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed quite a few precautionary steps which the public can take to save themselves from the contagious virus.
For starters people can:
Wash hands often
Wash hands for least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after blowing nose, coughing, sneezing, or having been in a public place.
In case soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places including elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger when touching something in case of absolute necessity.
Wash hands after touching surfaces in public places.
Avoid spitting in public.
Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
Use a face mask if develop symptoms like cough.
Discard used tissues and mask in bin with a lid, and avoid directly touching the mask when wearing or removing the mask.
Clean homes to remove germs with disinfects and practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. As risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid cruises.
Practice food safety by cooking meats properly, and washing cutting boards and hands thoroughly when handling raw meat.
Improve immunity by exercising and keeping hydrated.
How is Pakistan Tackling Coronavirus?
As of March 13, 2020 there are 21 confirm cases of Coronavirus. According to the Federal Health Minister Dr Zafar Mirza, all of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 are related to outbreaks in countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq and China.
Most of the known cases are from Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan, however, it does not mean that other parts of the country at not equally at risk of a virus spread.
To contain the spread of virus, schools and institutions are being shutdown with schools extending spring breaks and universities announcing online classes. Hospitals across the country are on high-alert to tackle any possible outbreak.
Coronavirus is fast-spreading around the globe and it is possible that it is going to affect far more people than it has of now, but it means that governments and the common must make all efforts to contain the spread swiftly. Otherwise, in Pakistan would soon be following the same trajectory as it did in Italy’s case. The pressure on the health-care system is immense, and Pakistan has a history of being unable to curtail epidemic-like situations.