Coronavirus update 11 Feb: Death toll exceeds 1000, patients in Kerala declared virus-free and more
Two out of the three cases in Kerala (which are the only confirmed cases in the country) have tested negative and been declared disease-free.
The Wuhan coronavirus crossed another scary landmark on February 11: it has now claimed 1,018 lives. The number of infections also continued to rise to 43,109. The vast majority of these cases have been identified in the Hubei province, in which the city of Wuhan lies. The greatest threat outside of mainland China lies in a cruise ship that has been docked in Japan for over a week. The Diamond Princess is carrying over 3,500 people and has 135 confirmed cases of the infection. Those with suspected and confirmed symptoms are being evacuated from the ship and taken to treatment facilities on land.
The situation in India
In a welcome development, two out of the three cases in Kerala (which are the only confirmed cases in the country) have tested negative and been declared disease-free. The third case is also reportedly doing well and on the path to recovery.
On February 10, Prime Minister Modi offered assistance and condolences in a letter to China’s premier, Xi Jinping. Mr Jinping replied thanking the PM and hoped for further cooperation and solidarity in the future.
In a study by researchers at Humboldt University and Robert Koch Institute in Germany, India ranks 17th among foreign countries in terms of importing the coronavirus infection. The study is based on air travel and the density of passengers passing through airports. In other words, the more connected and crowded an airport is, the higher the likelihood of the infection spreading. India had a national import risk of 0.2%, whereas Thailand, which is considered most at risk was at 2.1%.
As of now, 319 cases in 24 countries have been reported. There have only been two deaths outside China - one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.
More information and uncertainty surrounding the mystery virus
Scientists still don’t know for sure where the virus came from. While it is established that a meat market in Wuhan was the source, the animal vector (or carrier) of the infection is yet to be recognized. Evidence suggests that the virus initially lay in bats but was transmitted to an intermediary species before infecting humans. The latest candidate for this middle species is a pangolin. These are ant-eating mammals that are heavily imported into China for food and medicine. Studies have not been able to confirm this yet and the search continues.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials had conflicting views on whether the virus can be transmitted through the air. Zeng Qun, the deputy head of Shanghai’s Civil Affairs Bureau, said in a press conference that the virus can be spread in this way. This raised alarm bells since the virus can spread to people even if they’re not close to each other. The Chinese government and WHO, however, stated that the virus is spread by people in close physical contact and reiterated the need to constantly wash hands and stay away from people exhibiting symptoms.
Some tips to keep yourself safe
- Wash your hands frequently as this eliminates the virus — and other microorganisms — if they are present on your hands.
- Use tissues, or cover your face with the inside of your elbow (radial portion) when you sneeze or cough. Dispose of the tissue right away. As for the elbow, it is better than sneezing on your hands as they are likely to touch other surfaces and transmit the infection if present.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth without first cleaning your hands properly as this may cause the virus to enter the body.
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from someone who is coughing or exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
- If you have been coughing and having difficulty breathing, visit your doctor.
For more information, read our article on Coronavirus Infection: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention.
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