Although popularly referred to as coronavirus, on February 11, the WHO announced the official name of the disease: Covid-19. The virus that causes that disease is to be called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or Sars-CoV-2 for short, according to a paper from the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses.
How did Covid-19 start?
The disease appears to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded illegally. Coronaviruses are known to jump from animals to humans, so it’s thought that the first people infected with the disease – a group primarily made up of stallholders from the seafood market – contracted it from contact with animals.
Although an initial analysis of the virus that causes Covid-19 suggested it was similar to viruses seen in snakes, the hunt for the animal source of Covid-19 is still on. A team of virologists at the Wuhan Institute for Virology released a detailed paper showing that the new coronaviruses’ genetic makeup is 96 per cent identical to that of a coronavirus found in bats, while an as-yet unpublished study argues that genetic sequences of coronavirus in pangolins are 99 per cent similar to the human virus. Some early cases of Covid-19, however, appear to have inflicted people with no link to the Wuhan market at all, suggesting that the initial route of human infection may pre-date the market cases.
The Wuhan market was shut down for inspection and cleaning on January 1, but by then it appears that Covid-19 was already starting to spread beyond the market itself. On January 21, the WHO Western Pacific office said that the disease was also being transmitted between humans – evidence of which is apparent after medical staff became infected with the virus. Cases in Taiwan, Thailand, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, Franc, the UK and the United States also involved patients who had not been to China, implying that there has been some human-to-human transmission outside of China.
On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) China office heard the first reports of a previously-unknown virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in Eastern China with a population of over 11 million.
On January 30, the WHO designated Covid-19 a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC), indicating that international action will be required to contain the outbreak. In the past decade only five other PHEIC announcements have been made.
What exactly is Covid-19?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are known to infect both humans and animals, and in humans causes respiratory illness that range from common colds to much more serious infections. The most well-known case of a coronavirus epidemic was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which, after first being detected in southern China in 2002, went on to affect 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths. The number of people infected with Covid-19 has now well surpassed those hit with Sars.
While the cause of the current outbreak was initially unknown, on January 7 Chinese health authorities identified that it was caused by to a strain of coronavirus that hadn’t been encountered in humans before. Five days later the Chinese government shared the genetic sequence of the virus so that other countries could develop their own diagnostic kits. That virus is now called Sars-CoV-2.
Although symptoms of coronaviruses are often mild – including runny noses, headaches, coughs and fevers – in some cases they lead to more serious respiratory tract illness including pneumonia and bronchitis. These can be particularly dangerous in older patients, or people who have existing health conditions, and this appears to be the case with Covid-19. On February 5, Chinese health officials reported that two-thirds of the people who have died from Covid-19 were men, more than 80 per cent were over 60 years old and they typically had pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Where has been affected?
Formerly known as n-cov19 the corona virus has since been designated officially as Sars-cov2 which causes the disease Covid-19, and has affected approximately 79434 people, with a further cases reported in other countries, Covid-19 has reached as far as: South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, Thailand, United States, Iran, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Germany, Vietnam, UAE, France, Macau, United Kingdom, Canada, Philippines, India, Kuwait, Russia, Spain, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Bahrain, Afghanistan.
So far 73 airlines have suspended flights to China:
AirAsia, Air Astana, Air Canada, Air France, Air India, Air KBZ, Air Macau, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Air New Zealand, Air Seoul, Air Tanzania, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Cambodia Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific Air, China Airlines/Mandarin Airlines, Delta Air Lines, EgyptAir, El Al Israel Airlines, Eastar Jet, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, Finnair, Himalaya Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Iberia, IndiGo, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, Jetstar, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Lion Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Malindo Air, Myanmar Airways International, Myanmar National Airlines, Neos, Oman Air, Peach Aviation, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Brunei Airlines, RwandAir, Saudia, Scandinavian Airlines, SCAT Airlines, Scoot, Singapore Airlines, SkyUp Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways, Starlux Airlines, Thai Smile Air, Turkmenistan Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, Ukraine International Airlines, United Airlines, Ural Airlines, VietJet Air, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin Atlantic.
What’s going to happen next?
While the number of cases in China is still going up, other countries have not seen the same level of transmission. The first confirmed case of human-to-human transmission in Europe was reported in Germany on January 28, in a man who caught the virus from a Chinese colleague who visited him from Shanghai. Further cases in Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and the UK also involved people who had not travelled to China.
After initially delaying the decision, on January 31, the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak an international public health emergency. Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited the pace of the outbreak in China and cases of human-to-human transmission outside of the country among the factors contributing to the health agency’s decision to declare an international emergency.
Current WHO Advice
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ADVICE FOR THE PUBLIC
With further advice here:
During previous outbreaks due to other coronavirus (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), human-to-human transmission occurred through droplets, contact and fomites, suggesting that the transmission mode of the COVID-19 can be similar. The basic principles to reduce the general risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections include the following:
• Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
• Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
• Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
• People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover
Coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
• Within health care facilities, enhance standard infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, especially
In emergency departments.
WHO does not recommend any specific health measures for travellers. In case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel, travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider.
Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus
Wash your hands frequently
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.
Practice respiratory hygiene
When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Why? Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Tell your health care provider if you have travelled in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.
Why? Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing it’s important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes, and depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, 2019-nCoV could be one of them.
If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China
If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China, carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered, if possible.
As a general precaution, practice general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets.
Ensure regular hand washing with soap and water after touching animals and animal products; avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands; and avoid contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products. Strictly avoid any contact with other animals in the market (e.g., stray cats and dogs, rodents, birds, bats). Avoid contact with potentially contaminated animal waste or fluids on the soil or structures of shops and market facilities.
Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products
Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Protect yourself and others from getting sick
How to cope with stress during 2019-nCoV outbreak
Practice food safety
WHO technical advice
Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Current treatment and vaccine information:
The international COVID-19 response has been focused on avoiding a pandemic, of which many experts suggest we could be in the early stages. As of Feb 18, 2020, WHO reported 804 total confirmed cases and three deaths in 25 countries outside China. In addition to confirmed cases from travellers to Wuhan and on cruise ships, countries including Singapore, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea have identified clusters of locally transmitted cases. The numbers are small, but the rate of secondary and tertiary transmission is of grave concern and misinformation and fear are rampant. Thousands of medical workers in China are thought to have COVID-19 and, as countries implement scaled up diagnosis and surveillance, the risks from inadequate protective gear and shortages in testing kits are heightened. The first confirmed case in Africa (in Egypt) is worrying, as weak primary health-care systems could undermine preparedness. WHO has called for more investment in surveillance and preparedness, but governments have been slow to take heed. A huge amount of funding has been committed for vaccine platforms but, even with four candidates in development, there is unlikely to be a viable vaccine for at least another 12–18 months. Dozens of clinical trials of treatment are underway, but it will be weeks or months before the results are known.
Addressing the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15, 2020, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.” The ease through which inaccuracies and conspiracies can be repeated and perpetuated via social media and conventional outlets puts public health at a constant disadvantage. It is the rapid dissemination of trustworthy information—transparent identification of cases, data sharing, unhampered communication, and peer-reviewed research—which is needed most during this period of uncertainty. There may be no way to prevent a COVID-19 pandemic in this globalised time, but verified information is the most effective prevention against the disease of panic.
There are currently reports of Chloroquine phosphate being investigated but as with all information available at this time this will have to be investigated and researched properly first as this information comes from J-Stage which is an electronic journal platform for science and technology information in Japan
“Breakthrough: Chloroquine phosphate has shown apparent efficacy in treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies”
“The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus is spreading rapidly, and scientists are endeavouring to discover drugs for its efficacious treatment in China. Chloroquine phosphate, an old drug for treatment of malaria, is shown to have apparent efficacy and acceptable safety against COVID-19 associated pneumonia in multicentre clinical trials conducted in China. The drug is recommended to be included in the next version of the Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Pneumonia Caused by COVID-19 issued by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China for treatment of COVID-19 infection in larger populations in the future.”
Reporting and informational websites:
Johns Hopkins CSSE
Tracking coronavirus: Map, data and timeline
Genomic epidemiology of novel coronavirus (nCoV)
information about mutation and divergence of the sars-cov2 genome
WHO situation Reports
Robert Koch Institut
we are not medically trained or medical professionals!
we have collected this information from online sources and linked to those sources where possible.
People should not take this information as medical advice and in emergency should consult a qualified medical professional via phone first if they suspect they have Sars-cov2 or COVID-19 or as directed by their local officials or governments per their region/country!
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