Context: Political commitment at the highest levels of the Government, led by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is leading the government’s response against Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID2019).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially named the deadly novel Coronavirus as COVID-19.
- It was on 31 December 2019, when WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.
- To a surprise, the virus did not match any other known virus which raised concern because when a virus is new, we do not know how it affects people.
- After a week, on 7 January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed that a new virus has been identified by them.
- The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS.
- This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.” Because this was a coronavirus, which usually causes respiratory illness, WHO had advised to people on how to protect themselves and those around them from getting the disease.
- As of today, 43,100 cases have been reported and the death toll has reached 1,100. The number of infected is increasing in thousands of numbers within a span of a month.
WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS?
- Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness which ranges from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
- They were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from.
- They get their name from their crown-like shape.
- Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.
- However, a novel coronavirus (n-CoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
- Basically, the Coronaviruses (CoVs) are zoonotic, i.e., they are transmitted between animals and people.
- Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
- The most common signs of infection from coronavirus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
- In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
- There is no vaccine for coronavirus. To help prevent a coronavirus infection, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold.
- Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
WHY THERE IS A CHANGE IN NAME BY WHO?
- The name is important to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate and which also might stigmatise the disease.
- Also the renaming is done to make sure that the name is not to be known with geographical location, animals, an individual or a group of people which they fear ends up in stigmatising or isolating the group concerned.
- In COVID-19 , CO stands for Corona, VI stands for Virus, D stands for Disease and 19 describes the year the virus first was identified.
INDIA’S VULNERABILITY TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
- India is the 17th most vulnerable country to importing of novel Coronavirus (nCov), according to a global import risk assessment model developed by researchers from the Humboldt University and Robert Koch Institute in Berlin.
- Apart from China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea imported the infection and all these countries have seen the cases of coronavirus.
- Indian Council of Medical Research laboratories have tested 1,486 samples and only three have tested positive.
- All three patients from Kerala have recovered from the disease, confirmed health ministry officials. However, they will be kept in isolation for 28 days.
- Many Indians were stranded in Wuhan which is the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak and 15 students returned to Kerala and were screened at the airport.