Recently an outbreak of the mysterious viral disease in China is making headlines all around the world. The death toll in China is increasing and the number of affected persons is also rising despite multiple efforts of the Chinese government. WHO declared it as a National Health Emergency in China but denied for declaring it as World Health Emergency. We will try to summarize every aspect relating to this viral outbreak.
Table of Contents
What is Coronavirus? Recent outbreak in Wuhan and its potential threat. Steps taken by Chinese Government. Role of WHO. What India needs to do?
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is basically a family or group of viruses, whose primary hosts are Mammals and Birds. This virus affects the digestive and respiratory system of the host’s body and can prove fatal in many cases. Though Human transmission is not common in some cases zoonotic transmission ( infection spread from animals to humans) is possible. It is called Coronavirus due to its structure, there are many appendages around the body of the virus, so when it is seen with the help of a microscope it looks like a crown, from there this virus, got its name.
Now it is important to understand here that this Human transmission is not new few other past instances are there like in 2003, there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which had begun the prior year in Asia, and then spread other parts of the world. The virus was officially named the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Over 8,000 people were infected, and around 800 succumbed to the disease. Similarly in September 2012, a new type of coronavirus strain was identified, officially named Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This outbreak killed approx. 851 people till now the mortality rate of this strain is very high. The difficulty is that there is only symptomatic treatment is available for this also there is no Vaccine available for this Virus.
The recent outbreak in China and potential threat.
The recent outbreak in the Wuhan region of China is completely a different strain(a type of virus) from above two, unofficially it is named Wuhan- Coronavirus and WHO named it 2019 novel Coronavirus ( nCoV). The DNA structure of this strain is 80 percent similar to that of SARS Coronavirus and also it’s symptoms are similar. The virus causing mild symptoms from mild fever, fatigue, and cold to pneumonia. As of now on 25th January death toll reached to 26 and number of confirmed infection cases is 834 in China, 5 in Thailand, 3 in Singapore, 3 in Taiwan, 2 in Japan, 2 in Vietnam, 2 in South Korea, 2 in the United States and 1 case in Nepal. This menace is rising day by day and there is a potential risk of a pandemic. This virus affects most of the Wuhan and its neighboring regions. This viral spread froze the normal life of China. 41 million people in 13 cities are locked down and it is affecting the economy of China as well.
Steps taken by Chinese Government.
• As soon as China suspected some serious issue, it reported WHO about several pneumonia cases on 31st December 2019, then China declared it as an outbreak of SARS. On 7th January 2020 the virus is identified and named as 2019-nCoV. After that, a health advisory was released by China.
• Chinese administration assured the quarantine of infected persons.
• China locked down Wuhan city and advised people not to come out of their house.
• China is moving military doctors and hundreds of health workers to Wuhan Province to control the situation.
• The Chinese government is building a special hospital for this which will have a bed capacity of 1000 people. This construction will be completed in 10 days only.
• The government shut down many picnic spots and monuments to prevent further infection.
• The celebration of Lunar New Year in China has been canceled which was scheduled for 25th January.
• Also, the Government increased the screening mechanism at airports to prevent its spread across the globe.
Role of WHO:
The meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019 in China, with exportations currently reported in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, took place on Wednesday, 22 January 2020, in Geneva. the advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC( Public Health Emergency of International Concern), but the Committee members agreed on the urgency of the situation and suggested that the Committee should be reconvened in a matter of days to examine the situation further. WHO advised China to increase surveillance and updating the WHO on this matter from time to time. Who also advised other countries and said that it is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country. Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of the onward spread of 2019- nCoV infection, and to share full data with WHO. This time WHO is criticized for its lethargy, as WHO is not updating its website regularly over this Coronavirus spread.
What India is doing?
Union Health Ministry of India is regularly in touch with WHO. Extensive thermal screening is going on at International airports, people returning from China are going through it. On Friday the Indian government extended its health advisory to 12 more airports. Also, 10 laboratories under ICMR’s Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories network are equipped to test such samples for diagnosis. Also, the Indian Embassy in Beijing got assurance from the Chinese Government about wellness and all possible assistance to Indian residents in Wuhan.