Human Coronavirus has been the most heard word in recent times, because of its outbreak which was recognized in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Human Coronavirus is usually considered the main cause of common cold in otherwise healthy people.
On 30 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” — an alarm it reserves for events that pose a risk to multiple countries and which requires a coordinated international response.
However, in the 21st century, the two highly pathogenic human Coronaviruses - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS- CoV) have emerged from the animals sold for foods. They are suspected to be reservoirs to cause Global epidemics with a high rate of morbidity and mortality. Because of the recent outbreak in China, human Coronavirus has received more attention.
In December 2019, pneumonia cases of unknown cause emerged in Wuhan, China with clinical presentations resembling viral pneumonia. After the proper analysis of the lower respiratory tract samples, indicating a Novel Coronavirus, it was named as ‘2019 Novel Coronavirus’ (2019-nCoV).
In the confirmed cases of Coronavirus thus far, affected individuals have reported mild to severe respiratory symptoms, fatigue, fever, headache, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the virus has led to pneumonia, kidney failure, and, even a few deaths. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms may appear within two to fourteen days after exposure. However, some infected individuals have shown little to no symptoms.
Any person fulfilling the epidemiological and clinical criteria should be tested for 2019-nCoV.
Based on what we know so far about the occurrence and spread of the viral infection by Coronavirus:
Diagnosis is made through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens and serum (blood). The specific test currently recommended by WHO for the diagnosis and confirmation of 2019-nCoV is by real-time RT-PCR.
Currently, there is no specific treatment recommended for the respiratory illness caused by the ‘2019 Novel Coronavirus’. While symptomatic treatment is given to help relieve symptoms, support for the vital organ function should be given in severe cases.
There are currently no effective drugs against the virus. Two HIV drugs thought to target a protein that helps Coronavirus to replicate are being tested as a treatment. Scientists have also identified other existing medications that target this function, and several international research groups are working on a vaccine.
While, people are advised to consult with their health advisor or public health department for more information on how to help reduce the chances of exposure to the coronavirus, and what steps to take should one becomes infected, avoiding exposure to the virus is the best way of prevention.