According to WHO, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. On 12 January 2020, WHO confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019 and has now spread to over 200 countries and territories across the globe. It was characterised as a pandemic by WHO on 11 March 2020.
How to keep safe:
⦁ Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
⦁ Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
⦁ Avoid touching your face.
⦁ Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
⦁ Stay home if you feel unwell.
⦁ Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
⦁ Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
The COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways. Symptoms include:
⦁ dry cough.
⦁ shortness of breath
⦁ aches and pains
⦁ sore throat
⦁ and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.
People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death. People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.
How it Spreads: Primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow). At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19 and the process to develop one may take 12 to 18 months.
Situation in India:
The first case of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic in India was reported on 30 January 2020, originating from China. As of 18 April 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have confirmed a total of 14,792 cases, 2,015 recoveries (including 1 migration) and 488 deaths in the country. Experts suggest the number of infections could be much higher as India’s testing rates are among the lowest in the world. The infection rate of COVID-19 in India is reported to be 1.7, significantly lower than in the worst affected countries.
On 22 March 2020, India observed a 14-hour voluntary public curfew at the instance of the prime minister Narendra Modi. The government followed it up with lockdowns in 75 districts where COVID cases had occurred as well as all major cities. Further, on 24 March, the prime minister ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, affecting the entire 1.3 billion population of India. On 14 April, the prime minister extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown till 3 May.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology launched a smart phone application called Aarogya Setu to help in “contact tracing and containing the spread” of COVID-19 pandemic in the nation.
A study by experts at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has estimated that India may be able to reduce its Covid-19 cases by 62 per cent if social distancing and quarantines are strictly observed.