The world is in a state of health emergency as the novel coronavirus (nCoV) has expanded to different parts of the world.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses. They cause typical respiratory illnesses that range in severity from common cold to diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of virus that has been recently identified in human. The virus outbreak was first reported in the Wuhan region of China and thereby spread to different parts of the world.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The primary mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets that are usually transmitted when someone coughs or sneezes. When someone else either inhales it or touches something with the virus particle and touches his own eyes, nose or mouth. The droplet can be transmitted to about 3 to 6 feet from the person who coughed or sneezed. The symptoms of the coronavirus disease may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
With the increasing death toll and number of people infected by the virus, WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and other health organizations to issue precautionary and preventive measures. Countries have issued travel advisories to their citizens, advising you to avoid non-essential travel to affected areas. Various countries apart from China have reported cases of people infected by the virus. Countries that are majorly infected (region wise) are – in the western pacific region: Korea, Japan, Singapore and Australia; in the European region: Italy, Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom and Switzerland; in the south-east Asia region: Thailand and India; in the eastern Mediterranean region: Iran and in the North American region: United States and Canada.
World Health Organization has declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a ‘pandemic’. According to WHO, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations. Hence, declaration of a pandemic has nothing to do with changes to the characteristics of a disease, instead is concerned with its geographic spread.
China, considered the world’s manufacturing hub, is at the centre of the deadly outbreak. It has taken a toll on the world economy. Global economic growth has suffered significantly in the past few months. With the spread of novel coronavirus, there is a panic among market stakeholders. Businesses are suffering to a great extent. Countries like China, Iran, Italy and South Korea are facing a complete lockdown. Planned vacations had to be cancelled. Reimbursements by hotels and travel agencies have hit the tourism industry hard.
With increasing cases of COVID-19 in India, the Indian government has acted pro-actively in the situation. It has suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment till April 15 to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. The government has strongly advised to acid non-essential travel abroad and mass gatherings. Various preventive measures have been taken by state governments as well. The Jammu & Kashmir administration has issued notifications for the closure of primary schools and aganwadi centres. On the other hand, Karnataka government issued temporary regulation which asked all government and private hospitals to have flu corners for screening of suspected cases of COVID-19. The Indian government has made earnest efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens on foreign land. It has successfully carried evacuation drives from countries deadly hit by the virus. In an initiative to spread awareness among citizens, the telecom operators have started warnings in the form of caller tunes by its subscribers. Companies have agreed to give ‘work from home’ to its employee and minimize human contact at workplaces.
Governments across the globe must learn lessons from the current situation and strengthen their health infrastructure systems to deal with any such ‘pandemic’ in the coming future. The citizens and civil society must act responsibly and adhere to advisories as given by the state. The authorities must be vigilant on the spread of rumors during such times, as it can create panic among the masses.