By neucrad health India news desk March 19, 2020
Coronavirus or COVID-19 has currently affected 176 countries and an international cruise ship Diamond Princess docked at Yokohama, Japan. China, Italy, Iran, Spain, and Germany are some of the worst affected countries where the number of infected patients has crossed 10000. Until today (March 19th, 2020) 220,357 cases got detected with this infection claiming 8,988 lives. The ongoing global epidemic is taking a monstrous shape with every passing day. The World health organisation (WHO) declared the current situation as a pandemic on March 11th 2020 .
What is the current situation in India?
Until March 19th, 2020, 174 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in India. The virus has also claimed a total of three lives in Karnataka, Delhi, and Maharashtra till today. Maharashtra with 42 active cases and 1 death recorded the maximum number of cases. Health officials are considering the state as an epicentre for the spread of the disease. Kerala, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka also detected 25, 17, 16, and 14 positive cases, respectively. 276 Indians are also suffering from the viral disease outside the country. 255 of our countrymen ate stranded in Iran with the infection. However, the Indian Embassy is taking care of them and are continuously in touch with hospitals where their treatments are going on .
What is Novel Coronavirus infection?
Coronavirus is a member of family Coronaviridae in the subfamily Coronavirinae. The 2019 strain of this pathogen is known as SARS-CoV-2, and it causes COVID-19 infection. Before 2019 epidemic, the same family of the virus has also lead to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in China in 2003 and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012. While the former infected 8,098 patients and claimed 774 lives, the latter caused death to 858 individuals primarily in Saudi Arabia. However, SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is vastly different from the above two outbreaks as it has already invaded 176 countries and infected 220,357 patients.
SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic virus and is prevalent among bats without causing any sickness to them. However, at the time of the outbreak, Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan city rarely sold any bats. So, most probably an intermediate host caused the infection and increased the genetic diversity of the pathogen manifold. But scientists confirmed that bat is the primary resource for the new corona virus. However, the silver lining is COVID-19 do not get transmitted from a pregnant mother to the baby as suggested by Chinese researchers but it may need more studies to make a final conclusion.
What is the mechanism of Coronavirus infection?
SARS-CoV-2 is a single-stranded RNA virus with a protein envelope around its body. Structurally, the virus has four components- the nucleocapsid, envelope, membrane and spike. Here the genetic material of the pathogen lies within its nucleocapsid. SARS-CoV-2 has the longest genomes among RNA viruses (consisting of 30,000 bases), making it susceptible to mutate very rapidly. The spikes of the virus produce club-shaped protrusions which bind with receptors (ACE2) on host cells to gain entry within the human body. After this, it co-opts some of the cellular mechanism of the host cell and starts replicating. When the viral load inside the host exceeds a specific point, it starts showing symptoms in the human body .
What are the treatments for Coronavirus infection?
Since COVID-19 is a viral infection, there is no approved medicine except Favilavir against this pathogen. Doctors offer symptomatic treatment for affected individuals. Finally, the National Medical Products Administration of China has approved the first-ever antiviral medicine called Favilavir. It may help in this current situation globally. According to the latest study Japanese-made flu medicine, Favipiravir or Avigan can be successful in managing the discomforts. Medical experts in China have trailed this medicine among 340 patients, and it was effective in most of them.
Is there any vaccine for Coronavirus?
Until now, there is no commercially available vaccine for COVID-19. However, clinical trial of a vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. started from March 16th, 2020. Phase 1 of this trial started at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, where doctors will administer the new vaccine in 45 volunteers (males and non-pregnant females between the age group 18 and 55). If everything goes on as planned, then the commercial variety of this immunisation will be available in the market within 12 to 18 months .
Should we panic about the current situation?
There is no reason to panic and spread fear among the public about the Coronavirus epidemic. The situation is no doubt gloomy, but people living in countries where the disease is currently in stage 2 can still prevent community outbreak. Now, we have 125,591 active cases globally. Out of them, 118,766 patients (95 per cent) demonstrate mild symptoms and only 6,825 patients (5 per cent) are critical. 85,778 individuals have also successfully defeated the onslaught of the virus and returned home after being completely cured at hospitals. China is slowly showing signs of recovery, where normalcy is limping back in society. Now there is less number of active cases in mainland China than the rest of the world. They have fought the deadly virus and looking forward to bouncing back to regular daily life. So, we would like to point out that people must practise extreme precautionary measures without scaring others .
What are the measures taken by the State & Indian Government to limit the spread of Coronavirus epidemic?
The Government of India has taken aggressive steps in combatting the spread of COVID-19. If you consider the vast magnitude of the country and the total number of cases tested positive until now, then we can surely say that the spread of the infection is controlled in comparison to European countries. Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, also lauded the efforts of the Government and health officials in raising awareness among the public and working relentlessly in controlling the disease. Have a look at some of the measures undertaken by the authority to arrest the epidemic.
· On March 10th, 2020 the State Government of Kerala announced the closure of all educational institutions in the state until March 31st.
· On March 11th, the Indian Government suspended all visas except the diplomatic and a few special ones till April 15th 2020. This measure came into effect from 12:00 GMT on March 13th 2020.
· On March 12th, 2020 the Government of Maharashtra declared an epidemic-like situation in five cities of the state including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. The Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray announced closures of all educational institutions, malls, swimming pools, gyms, and cinema halls should remain closed until March 31st.
· On March 14th, the Government of West Bengal also declared the closure of schools and colleges until March 31st as a preventive measure. Later, the authority decided to extend the shutdown until April 15th keeping in mind with the present situation of the outbreak. The state has also established a Rs 200 crore Coronavirus prevention fund to manage the epidemic.
· Beleghata ID Hospital and SSKM hospital are currently acting as testing facilities for Novel Coronavirus. Sample collection centres have come up at R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, Malda Medical College and Hospital, Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, and Midnapore Medical College and Hospital. A 450-bed unit of the yet-to-be inaugurated Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Rajarhat will serve as a quarantine facility. Besides, 163 beds in many state-run hospitals will aid in the isolation and treatment of patients.
Finally, we would like to say, practise all precautionary measures but do not spread panic against the epidemic.
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- Moderna Announces First Participant Dosed in NIH-led Phase 1 Study of mRNA Vaccine (mRNA-1273) Against Novel Coronavirus