The world is gripped with fear of the new member of the Corona virus family: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). It has been so far reported in 18 countries, with major chunk coming from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. As of now, nobody is an authority to conclusively talk about this virus because the virus is a new strain and is under study. I am not all an expert on virus or virus biology. So the elements and issues I mention about this virus are learnt from the whatever news I could go through, and my inferences are from those news.
The dangerous and unique nature of this virus is that it can spread from an infected person to another person before the incubation period. In this context, incubation period is the time taken by virus to go full-blown after it infects a person, and the infected will start to show symptoms of disease only after the incubation period is over. If you take Ebola, SARS and similar viral diseases, all these diseases spread from an infected person only after the incubation period is over which is the time when the infected person starts to show symptoms of the disease. But 2019-nCoV defies this “usual gentleness” of the virus family. It spreads from an infected person possibly from the day one. The dangerous nature of this viral character is that we may deal closely with someone who has this disease but he/she does not know about it and end up in getting this disease from him/her. And by the time the initial infected person shows symptoms of the viral attack, he might have unknowingly given this disease to most of those with whom he/she closely interacted. That is why Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, told that 2019-nCoV was the most dangerous virus ever attacked China. See the following examples:
In three countries: Germany, Japan, and Vietnam, people who never traveled to China got 2019-nCoV virus. Let us look at couple of these specific cases. In Japan, an airport-bus driver, who picked up the people who came from China, got infected. An expert says this incident is very concerning if it stands up to scrutiny because it is possible that he got the virus from someone, who was infected and was in that bus, through air – read, air-conditioner in a bus — and the same thing may happen at a clinic or hospital, the expert opined. In Germany, a physical trainer, who trained with a Chinese who came from Wuhan, got the virus. The Chinese was healthy to do the gym training, still, carried the virus without showing any symptom. He completed the training and went back to China. But his trainer is now fighting for his life at a hospital. See the danger that the infected person was healthy, still, not showing any symptom but could infect another person with either of them not knowing the danger.
The above incidents throw up a lot of questions about this virus that are very relevant for our health. If an infected person – nobody knows that he/she is infected — is in a closed area like an office, aeroplane, house, and that he/she sneezes coughing out virus into the air, then, what happens? Will the virus be picked up by the air condition system and circulate the entire space? The above incident shows there is strong possibility for this. Even without air condition system, it may spread if there is small wind. What do we do if we are in such place? In China, one infected family was studied by the doctors and found this. One member of the family, who wore mask when they all visited a hospital to see someone who was down with 2019-nCoV, was not affected. All others of the family were affected and died. So wearing mask can possibly save you 2019-nCoV. Wear N95 grade surgical mask. I have started wearing this one.
The Chinese had figured out the genome of the virus and published it. And within hours, the Americans pointed out the part of the genetic code of the virus that can be used for making vaccine. Works already started in Germany and USA to develop a vaccine for 2019-nCoV. The CEO of Novartis says that it will take an year to develop a vaccine. As of now, there is no medicine or vaccine for 2019-nCoV. So prevention is the only way. There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself: Avoid crowded places; wear N95 mask: wash your hands with soaps quite often, especially before having meals: do not put your hands into your mouth and nose as hands can take the virus into your system; avoid body contacts, including handshakes: etc. Take care and stay safe.