Coronavirus outbreak

The outbreak of coronavirus in China is giving serious cause for concern, if not trepidation. China’s National Health Commission has confirmed at least 56 deaths and around 2,000 cases of coronavirus infection since the contagious and deadly disease emerged sometime in December 2019. The WHO has not yet declared it a global health emergency. Still, it is feared that it may become a pandemic disease despite the slew of measures taken to stop its spread.

The new viral threat has put millions of people on lockdown and cast a shadow on the Lunar New Year events. It not only hurts the economy, but has also exacted $145 million for containment. The empty shops and markets, the imposition of travel restrictions, the cancellation of flights and trains in and around the virus-stricken regions, the closure of some sections of the Great Wall of China and Disney resorts to visitors, the ban on trade in wild animals, and the construction of two new hospitals in the worst-affected Wuhan on a war footing bespeak the scale, severity and seriousness of the problem.

Named “2019- Novel Coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”, the pathogen appears to have originated in a fish and animal market in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. Experts have confirmed animal-to-human and human-to-human transmission of the new strain. Symptoms include dry cough, fever, fatigue, muscle aches and acute breathing difficulty. The incubation period for the virus can last from 10 to 14 days. The infection can cause pneumonia, respiratory distress, kidney failure and in some cases, in which immunity is weak, even death.

As of now, there is no vaccine against coronavirus infection. There is also no cure for the 2019-nCoV. Nevertheless, the virus’s genetic code has been sequenced by Chinese scientists incredibly quickly, giving rise to the hope that a vaccine and a drug could be developed soon. Now there is only ‘supportive care’ to people infected with coronavirus. Recommended measures to reduce the risk of transmission include wearing face-masks and protective suits, washing hands and avoidance of contacts with infected persons and animals. There is no room for complacency; China and the rest of the world must be on full alert and take all possible measures to combat the new, never-before encountered pestilence.

G. David Milton

Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:48:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/coronavirus-outbreak/article30661223.ece

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