Updated: Mar 3, 2020
It’s a virus.
That was an understatement.
It’s the hot potato around the world. For some, it’s scary. For some, it’s worth making conspiracies over. Some call out Corona Extra beer as the prime suspect. For some, well, it’s meme-worthy content.
After all, these all are ways various types of people choose to come to terms with what is happening. For the media, it is another way to attract people to their television sets. Some undermine the damage the virus can cause, some exaggerate it. But honestly, it isn’t going to die out soon just because it is “Made in China”; nor is it going to turn people into zombies. That’s why I am here. To clarify things.
The Coronavirus likely started from the Huanan Seafood Market, which is a wet market. At such markets, outdoor stalls are squeezed together to forming narrow lanes, where locals and visitors shop for cuts of meat and ripe produce. Wet markets put people and live and dead animals - dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, and more - in constant, close contact. That makes it easy for a virus to jump from animal to human. The virus is suspected to have started from bats and pangolins in the market. The Market was shut down on January 1, 2020.
Dr. Li had tried warning about the spread of the virus, but was ignored. Later, he died of the same virus itself.
A Coronavirus is actually the name for a set of illnesses, including the common cold and other respiratory infections. A novel Coronavirus means it’s a new virus that originated in animals but has jumped to humans. This particular virus from Wuhan is being called the 2019 novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. The disease caused due to this virus has been named COVID-19.
There’s not much known about this virus, but we know the virus can be transmitted from person to person and it is passed by coughing and other close contacts. In this case, close contact is someone who has been face to face with an infectious person for at least 15 minutes or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours without protective equipment.
Simply, it is a dangerous flu; it spreads faster and kills more. Statistically, there is a 4:25 ratio of deaths to recoveries, or 16%. SARS had this ratio at 10%, and MERS had 37%.
According to the CDC, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.
Where are we today?
As of February 14, by WHO data, globally, there are 64,456 confirmed cases. There have been 1384 deaths. On Thursday, January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus epidemic as an International Emergency. The numbers may be much more, as China only sends as much data as they have been able to test, and there has been a shortage of testing kits in China. Anyways, it’s up to the Chinese Communist Party to declare what they want, there might be many, many more infected.
Is there a cure?
No, no and no. There is neither any vaccine designed yet nor a designated cure. This is because all viruses use the machinery of human cells to infect, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics. Doctors can only prescribe medication to cure symptoms.
Now, as this is India where everyone pretends to be a doctor, we have bizarre recommendations by the Hindu Mahasabha that “consuming cow urine and cow dung will stop the effect of infectious Coronavirus”. Also, the much controversial Ministry of AYUSH recommendations for using Unani/Homeopathy is unlikely to work. There has been no testing on it.
How can we keep ourselves safe?
According to WHO, the basic principles to reduce the general risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections include the following:
• Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
• Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
• Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
• People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
It’s also necessary that you keep your immune system strong. While immunity does not necessarily guarantee that you won’t be infected, it does help combat the symptoms IF you are infected.
Rumors (and other problems.)
The most bizarre rumor I have seen is that the Coronavirus turns people into “zombies”. People are dying and every death is a tragedy. But it is not the end of civilization as we know it.
After a brief period when censorship appeared to have been lifted in China, it is back. People who spread ANY MESSAGE against the government are threatened with imprisonment. The party decides what a rumor is.
The fact is that the Chinese government has not been able to satisfactorily look after the spread of the infection. The video by Chen Quishi, who was forced into “quarantine”, explains this:
The Coronavirus is also now fueling xenophobia. Chinese people in America are being denied access to restaurants and public places. The Chinese are subject to racist jokes nearly everywhere.
The only rumor I found somewhat possible was that the Coronavirus might have emerged from a bioweapon testing attempt. There is only one BioHazards level 4 lab in China, and it has been accused of various times of bioweapon testing. Guess where it is? Wuhan. Still, this conspiracy theory must be taken with a grain of salt.
My plead is that everyone should be informed fully before making any statement that fuels panic. To learn more about the virus, I advise people to head over to the Reddit r/Coronavirus subreddit, or PM me on Reddit at u/sociallyencrypted.