CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID -19)

By: Syed Arif Hussain ((Silver Medalist)
Coronaviruses are found in avian and mammalian species but the COVID 19 also called as novel corona virus (NCOV). It has surprised all virologists and pharmaceutical industries. Because it had not been studied in humans before late 2019.The scientists are of the opinion that bat was the initial host of this virus and later it had infected pangolin as an intermediate host in china city of Wahun. However, animals can sometimes carry harmful germs that can spread to people and cause illness – these are known as zoonotic disease of zoonoses. It came from seafood and meat in Wuhan,China in December 2019. That is why it is named COVID -19.This virus COVID 19 belongs to the family coronaviridae . Since then this virus has been spread out to more than 120 countries. In addition to COVID 19 there are myriad of other human coronaviruses as well with high fatality ratio i.e SARS coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome)which was first reported in Guanhdong province in southern china in 2003 and MERS coronavirus(Middle east respiratory syndrome) . Most human coronaviruses fall into one of two groups: 229E-like and OC43-like.SARS was rapidly progressive respiratory illness but spread worldwide before it was contained. Most people who contracted SARS had severe symptoms than COVID-19 that required quick hospitalization and quarantine. Over 8000 people were infected about 10% of whom died.There have been no cases of SARS anywhere in the world since 2004. While MERS was first reported in Saudia Arabia in 2012. The MERS virus also caused flue like symptoms with most patients developing pneumonia. Around one third of patients diagnosis with MERS have died according to CDC(Center for disease controle).Hence the fatality rate is 33 % and further spralling up. MERS coronavirus attacks still exist in the region. While the COVID -19 fatality rate is 2% but it currently posing serious threat due to its rampant proliferation and rate of infections globally. So far the statistics of fatality ratio of COVID -19 makes no comparison with SARS and MERS coronaviruses.But this virus is deemed more detrimental and harmful than SARS and MERS coronavirus because if its novelty, sharp replication and spreading with high frequency rate among people and most potential treat about this virus is that it has bewitched and stunned pharmaceutical industries and all virologist across the world due to its nature and mode of action. By now the number of infected people in the wold has surpassed 121,656 and death tool has exceeded 4382 . Hence one can better realize the gravity of situation if COVID-19 becomes pandemic from endemic.The fatality rate may take quantum jump with skyrocketing pace if COVID-19 is not contained and combated in time with strong and stringent measures.

Its symptoms usually range from mild, moderate to severe. This virus usually takes 2-15 days after exposure to develop. Symptoms may include fever, cough sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Sometimes this can be asymptomatic as well. So fare most of the confirmed case are in adults but some children also have been found infected. Those with weakened immune system may develop more serious symptoms like pneumonia or bronchitis.The COVID -19 can spread through contact with certain body fluids,such as droplets in a cough. It can also be caused by touching something an infected person has touched before and then touching your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes. That is why one must avoid people who are sick or avoid meeting in large groups. Cover your mouth with a mask better use N95 mask if available. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds especially after going to toilet or pit latrine, before eating, after rubbing your nose and coughing or sneezing. Better to use alcohol based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands as per WHO guide lines following the prescribed steps to splash the germs from your hands.The worry of this disease and talk of the town is its treatment. There is currently no vaccine, drug or any kind of treatment is available to COVID 19. Antibiotics have been found to be ineffective. The likelihood of transmission can be reduced by practicing hygienic measures. However most patients with mild disease recover on their own without complications. Drink plenty of water and never keep your throat dry because corona virus makes it entry to lungs. If water is taken it will divert its path to stomach where the acidity of stomach will stop its growth and further proliferation by replication. Avoid contact with public when you are sick. If you are prone to this virus or feel the symptoms of COVID 19 wear a facemask to prevent spreading this virus and educate the people around you about the precautionary measures to defeat this battle.
The writer is Lecturer and PhD Scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences Karakoram International University Gilgit.
Email: arif.bio@kiu.edu.pk

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