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What is Coronavirus? COVID-19 Guide


What is a Virus?

Let us first understand what is a Virus? Influenza, Bird flu, Polio, swine flu, dengue fever, etc. are among the diseases caused by Viruses.

These are pathogens that affect plants and animals. Viruses are not cells and cannot replicate independently unless they are inside the host body. They cannot be seen under a light microscope as they are too small.

In Live hosts, viruses reproduce and use the metabolic machinery of the host.  Also, in the presence of genetic material either in the form of DNA or RNA they undergo replication.

Viruses are generally classified on the basis of core and coat. The core is comprised of Genome whereas, Coat is referred to as capsid and in some cases, it is protected by an additional layer called the envelope.

An enveloped virus creates much resistance against the host’s immune system.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is among the big family of viruses and they mainly affect the respiratory system. The name coronavirus is derived from corona Latin called crown, which tells about the attribute of virus i.e. enveloped. They have single-stranded RNA as a genome, which poses a big challenge for scientists in developing its vaccine.

In the year 2002-2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak affected many people and the Case Fatality rate (CFR) was 9.6% and MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) in the year 2012 had CFR of 34.4%. Both are forms of coronavirus and killed 774 and 860 people respectively.  The CFR for novel Coronavirus called Covid-19 is estimated to be 2% but it’s just an estimate, as it can go up or down once the actual figures are revealed from infected areas.

The Latest Outbreak has its origin in Wuhan, China where people nearby seafood markets were the first reported victims of this virus. This later has spread to a large population affecting thousands and killing many. Apart from China, Japan has the highest rate of infected people from Coronavirus along with South Korea, Italy, Iran, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, USA, Germany, France, UAE, etc.

World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Covid-19 a public health emergency and not a ‘pandemic’ as its outbreak outside China is not an unexpected development. Pandemic is a worldwide spread of disease.

What are the Symptoms?

The Covid-19 coronavirus cause pneumonia and the symptoms associated with it are coughs, fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, nausea, fever and difficulty in breathing. Antibiotics and antiviral drugs are of no use against this viral pneumonia. If you have a strong immune system! Don’t worry you are safe, as the victims of this virus are those with a weak immune system and history of respiratory diseases.  This virus is transmitted from human to human so avoid going to places infected by this virus.

Also Read: Deadly Effects of Vaping and Smoking

How it Affect Your Body?

Coronavirus affects your respiratory system. The early symptoms include fever and cough and if your lungs become inflamed it causes pneumonia. If this situation turns severe it turns into cytokine storm, when the immune system goes into overdrive which overwhelms the body with cells and proteins and ultimately damages organs.

The virus is nurtured in your body for days without showing any symptoms of illness; it multiplies in the respiratory tract. Those with cardiovascular diseases, diabetics, weak health are more vulnerable to this virus. Overall, in 82% of the cases, the situation remains mild and nearly 2% of victims of the virus died in severe cases. People with mild disease may take two weeks to recover while those with severe disease may take up to six weeks to come around. So far the highest percentage of people who died due to this disease are in their 60s or older.

How to Prevent Coronavirus? (Preventive Measures)

  • Irrespective of such a situation make sure you follow proper hygiene and keep yourself and your surroundings neat, clean and tidy.
  • Frequently Wash Your Hands; you may use alcohol-based sanitizers or good soaps that kill germs.
  • Keep Social distance; this will protect you against particles transmitted from coughing and sneezing of others.
  • Do not touch eyes, nose, and mouth; on the daily routine, you touch different things and virus also survive on non-living things and this way your hands can get contaminated and you will transfer the virus to your body after touching eyes, nose or mouth.  Wash your hands always.
  • Does not cough or sneeze directly at other; practice respiratory hygiene, use a tissue or cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. Dispose of tissue after use.
  • If you have a cough, fever or problem in breathing immediately consult the doctor. Early diagnosis helps you recover fast if you get infected by Covid-19. Also, strictly follow the instructions of your doctor.
  • Do not visit gatherings, public places or areas known to have infected people.
  • Protective measures are simple and can be maintained with little effort therefore, prevention is better than cure.

What is the Treatment for Coronavirus?

There is no treatment for Covid-19 as of yet. People with mild disease are given support by health care to relieve from symptoms. In severe cases, support is provided to maintain vital organ’s function.

Believers of all faiths and sects are requested to pray for the healthy recovery of infected people. And also, to pray for the end of this outbreak which has left families across the globe in grief.

Credits (Data Compiling): Zahra Batool (Student of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Riphah International University, Islamabad, Pakistan)

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