Coronavirus update: AIIMS preps isolation ward, death toll reaches 106, new vaccine in the making and more
China officials said the virus has already affected more than 4,400 and killed 106 in China alone.
On January 26, the health minister of China, Ma Xiaowei announced that a person infected with the novel coronavirus can spread the infection even before they show the symptoms of the disease.
This makes it much more dangerous than SARS, which only spread after the incubation period - the period between exposure to the virus and appearance of first symptoms.
China officials said the virus has already affected more than 4,400 and killed 106 in China alone. Considering that it can spread in its incubation period (which can be between 1 to 14 days), there is no saying how many people have already been infected around the globe.
Here is an update on the situation so far.
The current situation in the world
As of January 22, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had decided against declaring it a global health emergency but officials were divided in their views and had said they would have another meeting within ten days or earlier to assess the situation again. The director-general of the WHO tweeted on January 26 that he was on his way to Beijing to meet with the government and health experts supporting the coronavirus response.
China has put the city of Wuhan (where the virus originated) under lockdown and has put travel restrictions on many other cities to keep the infection from spreading.
Meanwhile, the USA has confirmed 5 cases of the novel coronavirus infection and the virus has spread to several Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing. coronavirus cases have also been confirmed in Australia, Nepal, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Germany, Cambodia, Canada and France.
The source of the virus
A study published in The Lancet on Jan 24 said that the common symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and fatigue. Some less common symptoms are diarrhoea, headaches, sputum production and coughing up blood.
At first, the virus was believed to have spread from the Wuhan seafood market that sells a lot of animals including poultry, snakes and bats. However, the paper published in Lancet also indicates that the Huanan market may not be the only source of the virus. A recent article published in the Journal of Medical Virology, suggests that this novel coronavirus may be a mixture of two different viruses, a bat coronavirus and an unknown coronavirus . Right now, scientists are considering bats, chickens, hedgehogs, snakes and pangolins as possible primary source of the virus. A nationwide ban has been put on the sale of wild animals in China.
No case in India so far
As of now, no cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in India. However, over 200 people are currently under observation in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Kerela to check for a possible infection.
Around 250 Indians, which comprises a lot of students, are still in China. The Indian Embassy is considering all options to provide relief to those citizens. The embassy has opened a third hotline for families and loved ones of the stranded citizens since they have been getting many calls already. On Sunday, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar tweeted that they are in contact with the Chinese health authorities and none of the stranded citizens have got the virus so far. They are also getting all the necessary supplies including food and water.
We are on the job!
EAM @DrSJaishankar is closely monitoring the stituation. @EOIBeijing is in close touch with Indian citizens, including university students, in Wuhan & elsewhere in Hubei Province in China. (1/5) https://t.co/9fGhUJihqq
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) January 26, 2020
Indian officials are reportedly in talks with the Chinese government to make arrangements for all Indian citizens to return to their homeland and an Air India flight has been kept on standby for the same. Many other countries are arranging flights to evacuate their citizens from China.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is all set to tackle with any case of coronavirus infection if it shows up in the country. Officials say that they already have an isolation ward in place (which can be extended if needed) along with the masks and other safety gear that the health experts would need to deal with and contain the infection.
A possible vaccine
Fortunately, China was quickly able to obtain the gene sequence of the novel coronavirus . The sequence was made publically available on Jan 9. Since then experts from the National Institute of Health (NIH), USA have been working on a novel vaccine for the virus. The NIH is planning to do the first clinical trial within three months. reportedly one of the fastest any agency has ever made a vaccine. If the trials are successful, the vaccine will be quickly made available since NIH has already partnered with the biotech firm Moderna Inc. which is being funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
For more information, read our article on Coronavirus: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis and Treatment.
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