- Chinese authorities recently confirmed human transmission of coronavirus
- National Health Commission of China has confirmed more than 800 cases
- 25 people have died because of it as of Thursday, reports AP
Coronavirus death toll has risen to 213 in China. According to authorities, the number of people infected with has now crossed 9,000. Chinese authorities have ordered the extension of a public holiday in order to contain the epidemic. Changes have also been ordered by the authorities with respect to starting dates of schools and people to work from home by working online. Curbs on transportation have been imposed across China in order to cut off transmission routes. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization chief, is travelling to Beijing in order to meet with the Chinese government officials on the crisis caused by coronavirus outbreak.
Originating in Hubei, the capital of Wuhan, coronavirus has spread throughout China, with cases confirmed in around a dozen countries including as far as the United States, France and Australia.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus spreads the same way other cold-causing viruses spread like through coughing, sneezing and by touching an infected person's hand or face. Chinese authorities have confirmed human transmission of the deadly coronavirus. Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to an upper respiratory tract infection which include coughing, sore throat, runny nose and fever. In case the infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, it can cause pneumonia. This is more likely to occur in people with heart disease and a weak immune system.
We spoke to Dr Laxman Jessani, Infectious Diseases Consultant, from Apollo Hospital in Mumbai about the outbreak of the coronavirus in China and the likelihood of the disease coming to India. "Coronavirus is a type of virus which affects the respiratory system and the symptoms can also get severe and lead to more severe diseases like pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)," said Dr Laxman.
Also read: Know How To Spot First Signs Of Pneumonia
He also added that since the virus causes flu-like symptoms, doctors are now carefully looking into every patient who reports with coughing, breathing problems or a cold. "History of people to and fro from China is very important at the moment. Any patient suffering from respiratory symptoms could have a potential coronavirus, especially in case he or she has travelled to China recently. In case we signal coronavirus, then we have to make sure that the patient is kept in isolation."
On being asked about diagnosis of coronavirus, Dr Laxman explained that the secretion (sample from the patient) is examined with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based technique. This sample could be throat or lower-respiratory tract based secretion.
"The unique thing about this coronavirus is that it is a novel kind of coronavirus. It is a new strain of corona which has occurred because of a mutation that has occurred in the already-existing strain of coronavirus. So, after detecting coronavirus from the respiratory secretion (as mentioned above), the strain has to be further checked if it is a lower strain or not," he explained.
How to prevent the disease from becoming fatal?
This virus can manifest in something as simple as a common cold. It can become fatal when it progresses to pneumonia or ARDS. "Currently, there is no treatment available for coronavirus, nor any vaccine to prevent it," Dr Laxman informed. Treatment is only supportive for this virus, including the following important steps:
- Make the patient comfortable and help in relieving the symptoms
- Viral infections have their own course and subside on their own.
- Make sure that the patient take proper care and eats the right kind of food that can boost immunity and prevent the infection from getting worse.
What are the preventive steps one can take?
Dr Laxman gave the following tips for prevention of coronavirus:
1. Patients should be vigilant enough and undergo proper diagnosis in case of any respiratory symptom like cold and cough.
2. If someone has a history of travelling to China and is getting respiratory symptom, then s/he must be put into droplet and airborne isolation. Respiratory secretion of these patients should not come in contact with anyone else.
3. Whenever coughing and sneezing, make sure you cover your mouth with a tissue and discard the tissue immediately.
4. Wash your hands as frequently as possible.
Also read: Tips To Encourage Handwashing Habits In Kids
Precautions to be taken by people in India
So far, there have been no reported cases of coronavirus in India. Dr Laxman advised that in case there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in India, it is important that people protect themselves by taking the following precautionary measures:
1. Use a mask as much as possible
2. Avoid going in crowded places
3. Cover your nose when you are around someone who is coughing or sneezing, etc.
4. Hospitals must also be vigilant about patients coming with respiratory symptoms.
(Dr Laxman Jessani, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.