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The word “corona” has been making rounds on the internet, and unfortunately, it is scary. The “Novel Coronavirus,” aka “2019-nCoV,” is believed to have originated in the wet markets of Wuhan, China, and has quickly caught the attention of the World Health Organization. The ”n” stands for novel; this is a temporary name given to the disease as enough information has not been found yet.
If you wish to know more about this fast-spreading virus and what you can do to keep yourself safe, read on.
1. What are wet markets, and how are they related to 2019-nCoV?
Outdoor markets where vendors sell various cut meats ranging from seafood and chicken to snakes, pigs, and civets are called wet markets. The crammed stalls accompanied by crowded streets and hungry street dogs present a highly unhygienic space in which viruses can easily jump from animals to humans. This is not the first virus that originated in a wet market; the SARS virus of 2003 had its inception in a wet market too.
2. What are its symptoms?
Reported illnesses have shown symptoms ranging from fever, cough, shortness of breath, and in the worst case, death. Symptoms begin to show as early as two days after being infected. If you've been suffering from these illnesses for a prolonged period, it is advised to visit a doctor.
3. How does it spread from person to person?
Close contact (6 feet) with an infected person or respiratory droplets formed when an infected person coughs or sneezes are a few ways in which this virus is found to spread. When these respiratory droplets are inhaled, the virus travels to the lungs and attaches itself. There have been reports of the virus circulating between people who haven't started showing its symptoms, and it is unclear whether the virus can spread by touching a surface that has been contaminated.
4. What should you do if you had close contact with an infected person?
Monitor your health for illnesses like cough, cold, and fever for 28 days. If any of the symptoms persist, visit a health care facility and inform your attending doctor about your recent exposure with an infected person. Do not neglect your symptoms and brush them off as a regular fever. There is no specific treatment for the virus yet, but a doctor may provide medical care to relieve its symptoms.
5. What is the current status of a vaccine for 2019-nCoV?
"In essence, it's a version of SARS that spreads more easily but causes less damage.” -Ian Jones (Virologist at University of Reading)
Recent studies have found that 2019-nCoV has 80% similarities with the genetic codes of the SARS virus. This is a blessing in disguise as it gives a valuable input about the nature of the virus and a hope that the vaccines used for SARS can be potent against 2019-nCoV too. For now, this is only a hypothesis, and further research is required to confirm it.
6. Is it safe to travel to Wuhan, China, or any of the other affected countries?
Unless absolutely necessary, avoid travelling to the affected locations, it would indeed be the smart thing to do. If you have no other choice, taking the necessary precautions will keep you safe.
Carry face masks and try to avoid people who have shown the symptoms mentioned before. Airport security is now vigilantly checking for sick individuals to prevent the virus from spreading.
Q. What is the government of India doing about 2019-nCoV?
The government has opened a 24/7 hotline to answer any queries related to the virus - 011-23978046. As the situation is volatile, the government is continuously providing updated information, and each state has begun preparation in case the virus spreads. For now, the virus is being contained and the necessary actions have been taken by the WHO and other governments.
2019-nCoV is a relatively new virus, and scientists are working meticulously to find a cure. The areas that have shown higher contamination rates have been quarantined and every airport is checking people before allowing them to board. If you have any of the symptoms or noticed them among friends and family, make sure you visit a doctor and get checked for the virus. Ignorance is not bliss in this case.
Although COVID-19 is comparatively less dangerous in terms of mortality rates, it is contagious and spreads from person to person. There is no cure for the disease yet, and prevention is our best option. Certain precautions can save you as well as the lives of your loved ones.
It is important to wear a mask if you are coughing and sneezing or if you are taking care of a person who has been suspected with 2019-ncoV infection. Masks can also be used when you are in crowded places, although it is important to know which mask is best for you. The N95 mask consists of 3 filter layers that can provide upto 95% protection.
To know more, read: 12 Precautions Against Coronavirus COVID-19 (#7 Is a Must-Do)
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