Stay home, stay safe

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By: Jahangeer Lone

World Health Organisation has declared the new coronavirus out break, which originated in Wuhan, China on 31 December last year a global pandemic.

Coronavirus belong to a large group of viruses infecting animals and humans causing upper respiratory infections (URTIs). Initially upon its unfortunate outbreak in China, it was given an interim name novel coronavirus-9 (n-Cov19) , and latter was classified as SARS-Cov-2 and the illness caused by it as COVID-19 — CO and VI meaning coronavirus, D standing for disease. Though the mortality rate from this virus is around 3.4 percent but the infectivity rate is very rapid.

At the beginning of this century two more related diseases (SARS and MERS) erupted whose fatality rates were more than COVID-19 but the pathogenicity was low. SARS Cov-2 is potentially a lethal type of coronavirus. Though the disease started from China, but the bulk of cases and fatalities are from rest of the world and the virus is spreading internationally. This virus spreads from person to person when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Sneezes and coughs produce little droplets of mucous and saliva. If these droplets make it into another person’s eyes, nose or mouth, they contract infection.

Right after the WHO declared COVID -19 as global pandemic, many countries ordered people to stay at home to curb its spread. In Kashmir, the social media hashtag #talsa gari behiv (stay home) campaign is being strictly followed. Many other ideas like marking circles outside medical shops, ATMs and hospitals to keep people at least 6 feet away from each other so that the social distancing is maintained are also being tried.

COVID-19 can infect and hit people of all age groups, but the persons with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable. Persons who are over the age of 80 are at higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. Though the symptoms of COVID -19 are fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, but sometimes it can be asymptomatic, meaning that the infected persons may not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their system. Therefore utmost care should be taken to combat this fatal disease.

Researchers have found that the virus can remain live for 3 hours in air as aerosol, 4 hours on copper, upto 24 hours on cardboard and upto 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel. Although there is no specific treatment but the doctors are conducting trails with the existing drugs.

The best way to break the chain of this life threatening disease is to maintain social distancing, which means deliberately decreasing the physical contacts, and avoiding the crowded places which lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.

Quarantine is another way of stopping COVID-19 is undergoing at least 14 day self-isolation or quarantine. If you have recently returned from any part of the country, or abroad where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, in that case you should also quarantine yourself. Frequent hand wash by soap and water or alcohol based sanitisers should also be employed to save yourself and others from this deadly disease.

Stay home, stay safe!

  • Author studies Microbiology at Kashmir University

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