The world was caught in scourging trance when a ravaging virus tagged coronavirus crept in, in Wuhan, China and it is spreading fast to the other parts of the world. It is hot off the press that health experts have tagged the virus aptly named Covid, a brand new to medical science, no one knows how easily or quickly it is transmitted but the fact available says there is no vaccine yet to contain it; that sure sounds strange as the bottom of the sea.
It is said to be one of the five families of viruses that are known to cause respiratory illness including the coronavirus, the parainfluenza virus, and the adenoviruses. The dramatic rise in the death count in China signals that the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps by authorities there to limit travel for millions of people who live in the cities at the centre of the outbreak. According to Reuters, North Korea has suspended tourism because of the outbreak. Health officials in China said the virus originated in large seafood market in Wuhan, a city in central China, that also sells wild animals as meat.
The faces of inhabitants of Wuhan and environs lit with apprehension as Chinese authorities have deployed military doctors and locked down more cites to curb the spread of the virus. At the moment, reports emerging from China’s hospitals say that they are struggling to cope with the growing number of affected people.
The updates around the world also confirmed that the virus is now in 29 countries including Egypt. It is therefore important that all hands must be on deck in Africa to contain the epidemic of coronavirus.
So far, that there are 71,450 confirmed cases, while 1,776 people have died and 11,336 critically ill.
In the US, 15 cases have been confirmed. Europe’s first cases were identified in France while Australia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Nepal reported infections. France’s health ministry confirmed three cases of the coronavirus on January 12, 2019, the first reported infections in Europe, but the country now has 12 confirmed infected cases.
The virus is still a mystery, first discovered in Wuhan in December 2019. The virus has been touted to be more than SARS, the pandemic that can kill serially. Unconfirmed reports claim the virus emerged from seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, spreading from infected animals to humans. It is said it has an incubation period of about two weeks before infected people start to show symptoms, which resembles a cold or flu.
Why we must be at alert? When we recall some deadly diseases like Infleunza, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, tuberculosis, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, coronavirus sends a chill down our spines. For instance, we can all remember with bitterness how HIV/AIDS crawled into society like a thief in the night in the mid-20th Century. The disease was said to have made the jump from chimpanzees to humans. This virus hijacks and breaks down the immune system resulting in condition called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is so sad millions of people have died across the globe as a result of this deadly disease. Years and even decades after some outbreaks of the aforementioned viruses, the answers are still not forthcoming.
Where are all these diseases coming from? Scientists are energetically huddling together to unravel so many unanswered questions but how long it will take depends on the hands of the clock.
We therefore appeal to scientists to continue to poke the pieces of tinder wood into the hotspot; you never know which efforts will proffer solution.
How does it spread? According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus is akin to cold and flu and it spreads through coughing, sneezing or by leaving germs on a surface that is touched by infected people who touch their faeces. There are clear examples of person-to-person spread.
What precautions must we take? The CDC has warned that if you are travelling, you should follow the suggested propositions below: Avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan, China; avoid contact with sick people; avoid animals either alive or dead, animal markets and products that come from animal such as uncooked meat; wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds: use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available. Before fear starts wrapping people like blanket, the news media should be alert to its duty to sensitise people to this new virus.
What symptoms must we watch out for? The symptoms have been highlighted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to be: Cough symptom, pale in comparison to the common flu virus, unusual spike in cases of pneumonia-ling inflammation, accompanied by cough and phlegm, fever, cough and shortness of breath.
How are countries taking precautions? Countries in the Asia Pacific and elsewhere are not only cocking a critical ear at the latest development, some of them have initiated body temperature checks at airports, railway stations and along highways in hopes of catching those at risk of carrying a new virus.
No cases had been reported in Nigeria as of January 2020 but for this virus that has killed hundreds of people in dozens of countries, heightened precautions must be taken by the Federal Government. We must start to sensitise people to the need to take safety measures. I am not sure if we have started screening travellers from China for fever and cough, and I am also not sure health officers have been sent to our various international airports to monitor proceedings. If none has been done, the time to start these measures was yesterday.
My people say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.