COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease), the serious respiratory condition triggered by n-COV i.e. the novel coronavirus strain infection, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on March 11, 2020. This is truly a calamity in the history of global health, as the previous instance of WHO declaring a disease as a pandemic occurred 11 years ago, in 2009, in the case of the H1N1 swine flu. Addressing a press conference, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
Current statistics indicate that more than 3,80,000 people scattered across 190 countries in the world have tested positive for COVID-19. Moreover, the lethal infection has claimed more than 16, 500 lives, with the majority of fatalities occurring amongst the elderly population and those with prevailing chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Although more than 1,02,000 people have recovered from the illness, the coronavirus infectious ailment is still posing a great threat to healthy individuals, besides straining the medical workers and healthcare resources in every country.
An additional cause of worry is the fast pace at which the respiratory illness, COVID-19, triggered by infection of the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus, is spreading within local communities. Although the first few people confirmed to be affected by the disease do have travel history to the prime countries of origin of the disease, such as China, Italy, USA, Spain or Iran, the highly contagious nature of the virus makes it easily possible to get transmitted into healthy people in a new city or country by merely coming in close contact with an infected person. WHO has also clearly stated that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating at an alarming rate and the need of the hour is strictly following preventive measures of social distancing, frequent hand washing and immediately seeking medical care if any symptoms of COVID-19 are experienced by an individual.
However, due to the lack of availability of an effective vaccine or a well-designed treatment approach, this viral disease is bound to assume catastrophic proportions, spreading to various other countries and infecting numerous healthy individuals.
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COVID-19 is the grave breathing illness instigated by a novel strain of the coronavirus, a zoonotic microbe, which originated from an animal in a wet market in Wuhan, China and dispersed to humans, by means of directly handling live animals, as well as consuming contaminated meat produce. Also Check Out: Coronavirus: All You Need To Know About This Deadly Virus - Infographic
As the symptoms of COVID-19 closely resemble that of a common cold, fever or flu, the population in China was not on high alert when the disease initially emerged in local people. This lead to Chinese citizens as well as international tourists traveling frequently from China to other countries and continents, during the holiday season, in December 2019 and January 2020, mindless of the fact that their bodies possibly carried a deathly viral vector.
COVID-19 not only causes prolonged episodes of cough, cold, high fever and breathing difficulties, that do not subside with conventional medications but is also a highly infectious disease, implying it can spread from a sick person to a healthy individual, by merely coming in close contact. The mechanism of transmission of the n-COV virus involves air droplets emanated from an ailing patient to a normal human.
Needless to say, the best way to stay protected and disease-free, in times of the sweeping spread of this lethal disease, is prevention. Also Read: Coronavirus: Effective Ways To Prevent The Transmission Of This Deadly Virus
Apart from obtaining facts and awareness about the coronavirus disease itself, its causes, signs, symptoms, tips for prevention, early detection methods and possible treatment options, it is also essential to gain insight into the massive scale of the COVID-19 disease. In chaotic times like these, terms like outbreak, epidemic and pandemic are often being used to describe COVID-19, which could confuse and misguide many people. Read on, to obtain clarity on these disease event classification nomenclatures.
Difference Between An Outbreak, Epidemic And Pandemic:
This phrase is used to denote a sudden rise in the number of people affected by a disease, contained within a well-defined geographical region, such as a city or town in one country.
An epidemic indicates a disease that has spread rapidly amongst the population of an entire state or country i.e. a larger topographical area.
The word Pandemic originates from the Greek word “Pandemos” meaning “all people.” This term is used to designate a disease, when it has been widely distributed across the global populace, at a very fast pace, without any control, afflicting different groups of people in many countries and continents.
With WHO announcing COVID-19 as a Pandemic, due to the virus spreading rapidly in 110 countries and over 4000 people dying so far, the international community would be imposing more curbs on travel and imports, besides quarantining the patients who tested positive for n-COV infection.
Make sure to take the following precautions, to stay safe and steer clear of acquiring COVID-19.
- Consciously engage in social distancing. Work from home as much as possible and even while venturing out to buy essentials like groceries and medicine, maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from anyone else.
- Avoid unnecessary travel. With India too recording more than 60 cases, be cautious while traveling.
- If you are suffering from persistent dry cough, fever, difficulty in breathing, consult a doctor immediately.
- If you have traveled abroad to any of the coronavirus affected countries in recent months, get screened for COVID-19.
- Do not panic and start believing in rumors. Practice personal hygiene - use hand sanitizers, wash hands regularly and avoid participating in large gatherings.
- Since there is no vaccine available for COVID-19, practice all precautionary measures.