Where Did COVID-19 Come From?
With eighty-nine confirmed cases in Singapore till the time of writing this article, there has been an understandable concern among the public and the authority regarding COVID-19. The term COVID stands for Corona Virus Disease. The COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a new coronavirus that has not been observed before. It is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2, which stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
The current outbreak of Coronaviruses has originated in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in China. Bats are the most likely ecological hosts for SARS-CoV-2. But in the present scenario, the virus has jumped the species barrier from an intermediate animal host that has not yet been identified. This host could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal. However, human-to-human transmission is possible, and it has led to the current global outbreak of the Wuhan virus.
How Fast Is COVID-19 Spreading?
Coronaviruses are in fact, a family of viruses that target and affect mammals’ respiratory systems. The present outbreak of COVID-19 has generated global anxiety, and WHO has declared the outbreak a public health emergency. The maximum cases and fatalities have occurred in Hubei, but the virus has spread to other parts of the world as well.
There have been confirmed deaths due to the Wuhan virus in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, France, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. Moreover, the virus has spread to many countries in the Asia Pacific region as well as in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Africa. Most of the cases outside China have occurred among people who had traveled to China in recent times. However, there are cases in which no link to China was observed.
Consequently, Chinese authorities have sealed off Wuhan to prevent an epidemic. Many countries have evacuated their citizens from China, and international airlines have canceled flight operations to and from China. Some countries have even restricted Chinese nationals from entering their country. Comparing to SARS in 2002, COVID-19 is spreading much faster.
How Deadly Is Covid-19?
The COVID-19 causes infections in the respiratory tracts of humans. While this translates into minor, flu-like symptoms for healthy individuals, it can prove deadly for people with compromised immunity and older individuals.
As of 23 Feb 2020, China’s death toll for COVID-19 has crossed in 2442 and the total number of cases stands at 76,936 in the country. The second-highest figure of the Corona outbreak at 635, and it does not belong to a country, but to a cruise ship called Diamond Princes. The ship remained in quarantine for many days at Yokohama in Japan, before the passengers were evacuated or allowed to leave post-screening. Japan’s national tally, in which it does not include the ship passengers, is 135. It includes one fatal case, an 80-year old woman. South Korea has confirmed 602 cases of the Wuhan virus on its soil.
The virus has limited spread outside China. Singapore has 89 confirmed cases until now, but more than half of the people have recovered and been discharged from the hospital. No deaths due to the Wuhan virus have been reported in Singapore. In other countries, the number of cases is less than a hundred. While the Wuhan virus is highly contagious, mortality has been low. In Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, two percent of the cases resulted in deaths, while the figure has been less than one percent in other places. Compare this figure to the SARS outbreak, where the spread was low but the mortality was around ten percent.
The Wuhan virus can cause the following symptoms upon infection-
- respiratory symptoms
- shortness of breath
- breathing difficulties
In more severe cases, the infection can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
If you are feeling unwell and demonstrate the above symptoms, get in touch with a registered medical practitioner and have yourself checked. Timely detection and treatment can help you recover from COVID-19 and contain the spread of disease.
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Credit: Leaves, Neha