Coronavirus Outbreak: What is community transmission? How do you protect yourself from the virus?

The first case of the novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China at the end of the last year. While China did its best to contain the spread of the virus with unprecedented lockdowns, the virus managed to wriggle its way to the entire world.

Recently, the world health organisation has declared the novel coronavirus, that they named COVID-19, like a pandemic. This means that the virus has become a global epidemic and is spreading fast. However, this does not indicate anything towards the severity of the virus.

 Coronavirus Outbreak: What is community transmission? How do you protect yourself from the virus?

The coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the WHO. Image credit: Shutterstock

A pandemic is a scary word but it has nothing to do with how serious the illness is. It just means a disease is spreading widely. There can be pandemics of mild illness like that H1N1 flu turned out to be in 2009.

For most, this virus will only cause mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and most people infected will recover within a few weeks. For a few, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia, reported The Associated Press.

A visual aid to understand the difference between epidemic, pandemic and outbreak. Image credit: News18 creatives

A visual aid to understand the difference between epidemic, pandemic and outbreak. Image credit: News18 creatives

Spread of coronavirus

This novel coronavirus has spread to over one lakh people worldwide, with more than 80,000 people infected in China alone. Outside of China, Italy has the second-largest number of people affected with more than 12,000 infected patients.

The virus can spread in a number of different ways from person to person contact and from respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread if a person comes in contact with a surface that is contaminated and then touches their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

What are the different stages of the spread of the virus?

Stage 1 - imported cases
These cases are the people who have travelled to foreign countries; places that have confirmed cases of the virus and have come back to India.

Stage 2 - local transmission
Like mentioned above, these cases are those people who have come in contact with those that have a travel history.

Stage 3 - community transmission
This is the stage we need to avoid as there is no way that the virus can be traced back to a certain person.

Stage 4 - epidemic
This is the last stage and what the world saw China grapple with.

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Concern in many Asian countries have peaked as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads outside China. Image: Getty

Most of the cases of coronavirus has a travel history to a place that is infected with the virus. Image credit: Getty Images

Community transmission

During the initial phase of the spread of the virus, the infected people had some or the other travel history to China or had come in contact with people who have travelled to the country.

However, some of the new patients had no travel history or no evident indication of coming in contact with someone who had.

Scroll defines community transmission is said to take place when the source of infection for a large number of cases in an area cannot be traced: when individuals pick up the infection without having travelled to countries where the virus is circulating or having been in contact with known confirmed cases.

Dr Andrew Freedman from Cardiff University told BBC News, “Community spread is when you catch it from other people - at work, out shopping, on public transport, but you're catching it from people who probably don't think they have the infection. They may have no symptoms at all or very mild symptoms. Nevertheless, they're contagious and able to pass on the infection.”

Precautions against the virus

These are a few precautions, as prescribed by the WHO, that people can take to ensure that they do not get affected with COVID-19.

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid travelling to places  – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
Wash your hands with soap and water in order to reduce the chances of you getting infected with the coronavirus

Wash your hands with soap and water in order to reduce the chances of you getting infected with the coronavirus

These are some protective measures that people who have recently visited places where COVID-19 has spread:

  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low-grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travellers.

Also Read:

Coronavirus FAQs: When to call in sick, what to do if you don't have hand sanitizer and more

Coronavirus outbreak: List of countries around the world affected by COVID-19; confirmed cases in India rise to 75

Updated Date: Mar 23, 2020 17:10:36 IST



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