The Coronavirus which causes the disease of the respiratory system called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It first started in December 2019 in Wuhan which later spread to other parts of China. Due to people travelling to and from the country, it got spread internationally. Currently there are over a million confirmed cases and over 50,000 deaths spanning through all the continents except Antarctica.
The virus spreads by close contact of people through respiratory droplets produced from coughs and sneezes with a distance of 2metres. It can also be transmitted indirectly through contaminated surfaces. This is the reason why the WHO has recommended for the public not to be at large gatherings and the regular washing of hands with soap which inactivates the virus. From studies of the initial outbreak in China, it was discovered that the infection spread through asymptomatic carriers. Asymptomatic carriers show no sign or symptom of the infection. Thus, the person looks normal from the outside but will be spreading the virus to the surrounding people.
Though most of the infected people have mild illness and recover, some don’t most especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
As viruses are microorganisms, they are always mutating. Xiaolu Tang and his colleagues at Peking University at Beijing have studied the isolated viral genomes and identified two strains of the virus; the “L-type” and the “S-type”. Erik Volz at Imperial College London commented that “It’s normal for viruses to undergo evolution when they are transmitted to a new host.” Out of the two, the “L-type” is more prevalent which suggests that it is more aggressive than the “S-type”.
The coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, which means it is transmitted from animals to humans. The disease is thought to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals such as marmots, bats and snakes are traded illegally. Then it also spread through cruise ships such as the Diamond Princess and the World Dream.
Due to the ongoing spread of the disease, many governments around the world have imposed lockdown. Many world leaders such as Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister; US Sen. Rand Paul and Abba Kyari, the Nigerian President’s chief of staff have tested positive and have gone into self isolation.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres lamented that the coronavirus pandemic is the worst global crisis since World War II which could trigger conflicts around the world. He also added this is due to “a disease that represents a threat to everybody in the world and an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”
Unfortunately this has come true as travelling has been suspended and people are made to stay at home and keep social distancing, which is frustrating for the public. People argue about the provision of basic necessities of life. International organisations such as World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations said that “food supply chains must be protected from any trade-related measures.” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo warned that “the economic downturn and job losses caused by the pandemic would be worse than the 2008 recession.”
The WHO has confirmed that there’s no vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The best thing we can humanly do is to prevent the spread as much as possible. For more information on the preventive measures, click on the following link