Author- Robin Sharma
Corona virus, the term which is nowadays becoming a great cause of concern all over the world not only as a global pandemic but also as a threat to economy. Started from China it is spreading rapidly all over the world. Corona viruses were first found in humans in 1960s. The viruses cause the flu and gastro intestinal problems. The virus has protrusions on its surface. The protrusions are made of proteins. The virus can also infect cattle, dogs, pigs, camels, birds, apart from humans. The disease is Coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are a diverse group of viruses that infect and cause disease in humans and other animals, including pigs and chickens. Coronaviruses are so named because of the crown like appearance of their virus particles when seen under an electron microscope (corona means crown).
The new corona virus outbreak is linked to a market in Wuhan which sold meat and live animals. It is thought that it originated in animals. The Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak bears similarly to the 2002-03 epidemics of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) Coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The SARS-CoVoutbreak which started in south china lasted for over nine months.
In humans, coronaviruses are thought to cause a significant percentage of all common colds. It can also cause pneumonia and bronchitis and even lead to death due to respiratory blockage.
Types of Coronavirus :
· Human Coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E)
· Human Coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43)
· New Haven Coronavirus (HCoV-NL63)
· Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome- Related Coronavirus(SARS-COV)
· Human Coronavirus HKU1
· Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
· Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
At present the virus which is spreading all over the world leading to thousands of deaths is Novel Coronavirus. The Novel Coronavirus is also known as the Wuhan Pneumonia or the Wuhan Coronavirus. It is the virus that is responsible for the 2019-20 outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Why is the Novel Coronavirus a cause of concern?
The Novel Coronavirus(NCoV) has never been observed before. Hence there is no specific treatment for the disease. Current anti-viral treatments are also deemed ineffective at combating the illness. Therefore, present treatment is focused only on alleviating the symptoms of the disease.
First Coronavirus death outside China – The Philippines reported that a 44 year old man from Wuhan developed severe pneumonia and died.
In India first Coronavirus positive patient confirmed in Kerala.
Symptoms of Coronavirus :
· Dry Cough
· Shortness of breath
· Respiratory distress
· Severe infection can lead to other life threatening conditions such as Pneumonia, Kidney failure, Death usually occurs as a result of respiratory failure.
Initially, the NCoV was thought to be a zoonotic disease, however, current findings suggest that this disease spreads from person to person. It is suspected to spread through respiratory droplets (an infected person sneezing or coughing).
Zoonotic Infections –A Zoonosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites that spread between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans.
The Justinian Plague (541-542 AD), the Black Death (which started in Europe in 1347), Yellow fever in South America in the 16th century, the global influenza pandemic in 1918, and modern pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and triple ressortant A HINI influenza have one thing in common: the causal organisms came to humans from animals.
“Proximity to animals grows from wild food markets and captive animal breeding, with deforestation creating a conveyor belt for viruses and vectors to move from wildlife to captive animals, and from them to humans. The wild food markets in China offer both a mix of many animals which harbour deadly viruses, and an opportunity to transmit with ease to crowds of humans whose taste for a diversity of wild as well as close bred animals provides a conveyor belt for animal to humantransmission. Once the virus gains entry into humans who travel and transport animals, the infection spreads.”
Dr. K.S. Reddy, Former Professor of AIIMS and President of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
Current Report on COVID-19
The COVID-19 that emerged in Wuhan, China in Dec. 2019, is now in at least 47 countries around the world, spanning every continent except Antarctica.
More than 82,000 people have been infected, and over 2,800 are died. On 27th Feb, China reported 329 cases- the lowest in more than a month.
Outside China, there are now 4351 cases in 49 countries, and 67 deaths.
24 cases have been exported from Italy to 14 countries and 97 cases have been exported from Iran to 11 countries.
IS COVID-19 A PANDEMIC DISEASE
Outbreak, Epidemic, and Pandemic:-
Outbreak- A sudden rise in the cases of a disease in a particular place.
Epidemic- A large outbreak among a particular population or region.
Pandemic- The worldwide spread of a disease.
On Jan 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the WHO has not labelled COVID-19 as a pandemic yet.
WHO looks for sustained outbreaks causing a larger-than-expected number of cases on multiple continents. There is no specific number of countries that a disease must touch for WHO to classify it as a pandemic.
The new Coronavirus is still being called an epidemic-linked epidemics of COVID-19 in several countries.
What does CDC says?
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says the COVID-19 virus already meets two of its three criteria for a pandemic-
1.) It spreads between people
2.) It kills.
The third is that it has to spread worldwide. WHO dosen’t see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities worldwide.
Response to Pandemic- There are two kinds of response to a growing pandemic.
The first is Containment – as cases appear, you can isolate each person then trace and quarantine their contacts. That worked for SARS and the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak.
The second is Mitigation–If Containment only shows the virus, eventually you get “community spread” : people are infected without knowing how they were exposed, so you can’t quarantine all contacts. Slow the epidemic so it won’t peak massively and quickly, overloading health facilities. Close schools, cancel mass gatherings, shut down whole cities when they have community spread.
Precautions to be taken
· Wash your hands frequently.
· Maintain social distancing.
· Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
· Practice respiratory hygiene.
· If you have fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, seek medical care immediately.
· Wear protective gowns, gloves, and facial protection while handling animals and animal products.
Impact of Coronavirus
· Coronavirus could cost the Global economy $2.7 Trillion.
· It effects badly on China’s image as U.S. officials have repeatedly called the virus “The Wuhan Coronavirus”.
· Many countries have restricted entry of Chinese nationals.
· There have been several instances of racial attacks on people of chinese descent in U.S. and other countries.
CHINA BLAMES U.S. FOR CORONA-VIRUS
China has claimed that Patient Zero of the Coronavirus was actually from the U.S. rather than china.
Patient Zero–Used to refer to the person identified as the first carrier of a communicable disease in an outbreak of related cases.
Recently Lijian Zhao tweeted on his tweeter account blaming U.S. for emergence of Coronavirus. He is Spokesperson and Deputy Director General, Information Department, Foreign ministry.
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!
Chinese narrative is based on the theory that in Nov. 2019 in U.S. some military personnel suffered influenza and died. In the hospital where these military personnel were admitted, their was no taste kit to check pneumonia. Coronavirus mainly effects lungs due to which their is respiratory disorder which causes pneumonia. China blames U.S. by saying that the personnals of U.S. army were not tasted for pneumonia symptoms. Therefore, the patient zero is from U.S. army and they brought virus to Wuhan. In return, U.S. summons Chinese ambassador over Coronavirus conspiracy theory.
TWO IMPORTANT ACTS HAVE BEEN IN THE NEWS DURING
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
THE EPIDEMIC ACT 1897
The Centre has decided to bring out Epidemic Act, 1897, an act to provide for prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases to combat novel coronavirus in India.
Provisions of the 1897 Epidemic Diseases Act:
Section 1 – When at any time the State Govt. Is satisfied that the state or any part thereof is visited by or threatened with, an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease, the state government, if it thinks that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose, may take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and by public notice prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as it shall deem necessary to prevent outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred shall be defrayed.
Section 2 – In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the state government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation,in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.
Section 3 – Provides penalties for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act. These are according to section 188 of the Indian Penal Code(Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.)
Section 4 – Gives legal protection to the implementing officers acting under the act.
Example of implementation of Act : In 2009, to tackle the swine flu outbreak in Pune, sec. 2 powers were used to open screening centres in civic hospitals across the city and swine flu was declared a notifiable disease.
ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT, 1955
On March 13, the Centre notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to declare 2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks and hand sanitisers as essential Commodities.
It has also issued an advisory under the legal metrology act, so that states can ensure these items are not sold for more than the MRP.
The ECA was enacted in 1955. It has since been used by government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of Commodities it declares ‘essential’ an order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
N95 Mask - N95 respiratory masks can use similar filtration material as surgical masks but usually with more layers and a much tighter fit. N95 masks are supposed to fit tightly to the face and block out most particles.
“Masks with retail price of Rs. 300 was being sold at Rs. 1200 and hand sanitisersworth Rs. 40 is being sold at Rs. 100. The government has taken a strong decision to curb such unethical trade practices”, the Govt. Official said.