I bet no one foresaw this! A health challenge alarming enough to send the world into self-isolation at the same time. They say it is a viral infection. Well, series of viral infections had threatened human race before now, none had such frightening effect. Our planet is currently under the threat of the Corona Virus Disease, preferably called COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a newly detected respiratory illness caused by ‘Novel Coronavirus’. Even less complicated respiratory infections like the common cold and cough are caused by coronaviruses. Although, the positive stranded RNA viruses have an animal source, they have now been identified in human cells. Novel Coronavirus, particularly, have the bat as its host cell. It is assumed that the virus must have undergone mutation, triggering its virulence towards man. Also, the virus is closely related to the causal virus of a recently tackled illness, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Hence, the name SARS-CoV-2 given to it.
The new disease, according to the World Health Organisation, was first reported on 31st December, 2019. The virus was indeed transmitted from animals to humans in the Huainan Seafood Market of Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Since its first outbreak in the city, the disease continues to spread like wild fire among people and of course, places.
There is no existing immunity in our community against COVID-19. Therefore, it spreads from one person to another through what is known as a ‘Kerchoo-powered’ respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. Contact with these droplets goes a long way in spreading the virus. However, asymptomatic patients spread the disease more often unknowingly.
As the disease roam, certain persons are at greater risk of contracting it than others are. For instance, elderly people, due to their compromised immune systems, may get sick from it very easily, persons with cardiovascular and chronic respiratory illnesses too. Recent travellers especially from affected areas are also included in this category. Generally, being in close contact with an infected person puts one at risk.
Even before seeing a doctor, symptoms are pointers to one’s health status. Symptoms of the infection may range from mild illnesses to pneumonia. Symptomatic patients may have fever, cough, sore throat and breathing difficulties. Some may even have invasive
lesions in their lungs. It is advised that these signs are treated as urgent. The effects of the pandemic disease cannot be overemphasized as it has not only led to severe complications in some patients but sadly, it has led to deaths. Additionally, due to the temporary close of commercial activities, the global economy is approaching a meltdown. Also, the volume of waste disposed in our environment due to inability to recycle used goods has increased drastically. There is a significant increase in the use of internet too. The worldwide lockdown has also affected the education process, forcing a change in the academic calendar. Despite its negative effects, the restraint of airlines and other transport services has contributed to a healthier environmental air. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has not done much good to say the least.
The World Health Organisation made it clear that no medicine or vaccine has demonstrated efficacy in treating or preventing the respiratory illness. However, several health bodies have proposed treatment options, none has been approved though. Potential treatments like remdesivir and chloroquine are still being tested. Surprisingly, many patients were said to have recovered without specified treatments. As stated by a health worker, “only oxygen was needed to keep them alive till they recover”. Asides this, use of convalescent plasma i.e. plasma containing anti-bodies from recovered patients has been reported successful in China. In response to the threatening pandemic disease, health organisations and its workers have committed to stopping at nothing until the disease is totally wiped out.
Prevention is indeed better than cure, considering that the right attitude is all we need to tackle the almighty COVID-19. The virus can be inactivated by lipid solvents. We should therefore, wash our hands with soap and water or use alcohol based hand rub very often. Furthermore, the nose and mouth must be covered while sneezing or coughing. Avoid close contact with infected persons most importantly and maintain good hygiene.
In conclusion, being aware prevents being caught unawares. COVID-19 is a global health challenge that should be dealt with if it must do a disappearing act. It is definitely not here to stay but in the meantime, we all should ‘stay home’ and ‘save lives’.