© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Coronavirus: 10 major facts about the deadly disease from China
NOVEL coronavirus outbreak is reported to be worsening since it first appeared in Wuhan city of China in December.
There have been over 1,200 confirmed cases of infected persons in China alone and reports highlighting scores of people in several countries who have contracted the deadly disease.
As a result, countries are investing in precautionary measures and steps are being taken to curb the outbreak.
While some countries are monitoring visitors coming into their country and managing suspected cases, in China where it all began, a new hospital is being built and several medical personnels are being sent to help manage cases of infected persons.
In the past days, there have been concerns over the outbreak of the virus which poses threat to the health of global community, if not probably managed.
The ICIR has gathered 10 facts about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of the virus unknown to science and has not been previously identified in humans.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists previously had knowledge of only six members of the broad family of coronaviruses which are divided into common and human coronavirus.
They include; 29E (alpha coronavirus), NL63 (alpha coronavirus), OC43 (beta coronavirus), HKU1 (beta coronavirus) and MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS), SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS and a new addition, making seven, called; 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Origin of virus
According to Journal of Medical Virology, the novel coronavirus which causes severe acute respiratory infection with symptoms including fever and cough, most likely originated from snakes.
Reports reveal that scientists highlighted two kinds of snakes that are common to southeastern China where the virus was first detected, and are likely to be the carriers of the virus. The snakes are many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus) and the Chinese cobra (Naja atra).
However, Live Science reports that some experts have rejected this stance, stating that it is unknown if coronavirus can infect snakes.
Some researchers have also said that the new virus is closely related to one found in Chinese horseshoe bats.
The outbreak began in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, at a local seafood and animal market, which has since been quarantined and shut down by the Chinese health authorities.
How does it spread?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the virus as zoonotic in nature – meaning it is transferred from animals to humans. However, cases from human-to-human infection have been detected.
According to CDC, the virus can be contracted through air; coughing and sneezing. It can also be gotten when one gets in close contact with an infected person or a surface in which the virus camps out.
The novel coronavirus is a lung disease and reports reveal that it often starts with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a short while, leads to shortness of breath and leads some patients to the hospital.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the incubation period for the novel coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, is an estimated 14 days from the time of exposure to getting sick. During incubation, patients aren’t infectious, NBC reports.
The death toll of the novel coronavirus has risen to 41.
There have also been 1,300 confirmed cases in China alone with suspicion that it would keep rising if not properly manage and nipped in the bud.
It has been reported that the virus can start as a mild fever and grow to become more aggressive by attacking respiratory organs.
Given that it takes a while to kill its victims, people who have a weakened immune system; mostly elders, have been reported to be most infected persons.
The China’s National Health Commission revealed that the youngest person who died from the virus was 48 and the oldest was 89.
Majority of people who have died were over 60, and more than half suffered from other chronic diseases including Parkinson and diabetes. Just four were women.
Countries with confirmed cases
Several Asian countries including; China, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan have confirmed cases of infected persons. Cases have also been confirmed in France and the United States.
Precautionary methods in Nigeria
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) released a public health advisory on its website, revealing that it is currently coordinating a multisectoral technical group that is assessing and managing the risk of importation to Nigeria.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health have also been screening passengers entering the country with body scanners.
Although WHO has declared the virus a public health emergency in China, it has said that it is too early to declare it a global emergency.
How can the virus be stopped?
There are no vaccines or known cure for the virus as at the time of filing this report. However, certain precautions can slow down the spread of the disease.
They include: Washings hands, limiting movements and treatment of patients in isolation.
There are no vaccines and yet known cure but people are advised to wash their hands with soap regularly as well as cover hands, mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.