It was on 31 December when the infectious agent went viral as the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission had reported a swarm of pneumocystis pneumonia cases. Though the symptoms were known and common, the viral infectious agent was new and as efficient as the influenza virus. Thus, a series of laboratory tests begin to identify this pathogen.
On 7 January 2020, the viral strain was isolated by the Chinese authorities, it was called the “Novel Coronavirus, nCoV” and the other respiratory disease-causing pathogens such as avian influenza, influenza, adenovirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) were discarded.
It’s not new…
Although the history of coronaviruses prevails from the 1960s when the cases of upper respiratory tract infections in children were first discovered. The most prevailing human coronavirus was discovered in 2003 SARS-CoV which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome.
So far total six species of coronaviruses have been discovered. Among these only four causes mild symptoms HCoV-OC43 (β coronavirus), HCoV-HKU1 (β coronavirus), HCoV-229E (α coronavirus) and HCoV-NL63 (α coronavirus). Whereas the other two β-CoV strains which induce severe infections are MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.
“ICTV named the newly found infectious viral as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” and the disease caused by it is known as the Covid-19”
The novel coronavirus is the most recently discovered coronavirus. It was extracted from bronchoalveolar-lavage specimens collected from Chinese adult patients with incomprehensible severe pneumonia by conducting viral metagenomics. Until now there is only one complete Novel Coronavirus genome available in GenBank (accession number MN9088947) with 29870-bp, excluding the Poly(A) tail. While performing pair-wise sequence analysis it was revealed that the closest relative to the Novel coronavirus-19 is the bat SARS-like coronavirus (GenBank accession number MG772933) as it shares 88% nucleotide similarity.
On 11 February 2020, International Committee on Taxonomy of viruses (ICTV) named the newly found infectious viral as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” and the disease caused by it is known as the Covid-19. The symptoms of the Covid-19 can include cough, fever and shortness of breath and increasing severity can lead to breathing difficulties or Pneumonia. The pathogen spreads by direct contact with or inhaling the respiratory droplets of an infected person. Infection can also spread through touching the contaminated objects as the SARS-CoV-2 remains viable on the surfaces for hours. The authorities worldwide are employing various measures to prevent the spread of the outbreak; hence the norms of social distancing have been established for public safety. Social distancing or physical distancing entails maintaining a gap of 2 meters (6ft) from others, avoid group/mass gatherings and crowded places. To avoid contracting the coronavirus through surfaces one can use disinfectants for cleaning.
Everyone is in this battle…
Every national government and officials are fighting tooth and nail to prevent the catastrophic effects of the viral outbreak by implementing necessary steps of identification, isolation, and tracing which is also adding up to the research fuel. For breaking the chain of the viral outbreak the national authorities have implemented various strategies such as building quarantine facilities for the patients, investing and ensuring the availability of proper medical equipment for the medical staff, ensuring physical distancing in the public places and nation-wide lockdown is also prevalent in many countries. Although it is no brainer that these lockdowns have also halted major business and operational activities. The daily wage workers are severely affected, and unemployment is also on the rise, which has led the economy to accelerate towards the wide jaws of recession. The authorities are sparing no efforts to counter-balance the situation by providing monetary relief packages which will be acting as the necessary injections for the failing economy.
The healthcare personnel are fighting tooth and nail against the Covid-19 pandemic. The healthcare organizations such as the research institutes, the pharmaceutical companies and scientists across the globe are going extra miles to find the cure to this pandemic.