Kashmir being one of the neglected regions both medically as well as administratively and having poor knowledge of practical sanitation, must remain on high alert to contain this deadly pandemic writes Sheikh Umar Ahmad.
Corona viruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in diverse living organisms including humans. They are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe of diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The most recently discovered Coronavirus is attributed to cause Coronavirus disease COVID-19 which is the infectious disease declared as pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The initial outbreak happened in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and the disease was unknown before, so this deadly strain got a new name as Novel COVID-19.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough with some patients experiencing aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. The person is initially asymptomatic for some days after getting infected or may develop mild symptoms and begins then gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell for the given incubation period and are likely put in home quarantine for 1-14 days, mostly around 5 days.
As per WHO, most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. One in six people becomes seriously ill and develop difficulty in breathing while older people with underlying medical problems, like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness after getting infected. People with fever, cough and difficulty in breathing should seek medical attention beforehand to contain this virus and to prevent any further transmission to other peoples in the vicinity.
Now as we all know in layman terms what is this virus all about and how it can be stopped from getting transmitted in our immediate localities by adopting rigorous measures and following the advices issued from time to time by the WHO & by local & regional health care authorities of which you all have a dig at. There is no place in the world which can virtually be put off from this pandemic list despite of the fact that the WHO conveyed that cold temperature areas are the suitable breeding grounds of this virus. But as of now it has already been declared a pandemic status by world’s prestigious health organization. In addition to above facts & figures, there are some other associated figures that one must have knowledge of while dealing with this pandemic and how one can reduce the chances of getting infected to this virus if it spreads in one’s area by having a thorough knowledge of these facts about it as reported from time to time.
As per WHO Centre for Disease Control and as reported by The New York Times, this deadly virus is mildly contagious as compared to other epidemics/pandemics that happened world over in the recent past. Though we don’t know fully yet what could appear the final contagious rate, but as of now it has a transmission rate of somewhere around 1.5-3.5% and fatality rate ranging in between 0.7%-3,4%, making it less contagious as compared to MERS/SARS and the likes Bird Flu, Ebola, Smallpox, Polio, Tuberculosis, Spanish Flu but more contagious than Measles, Rotavirus, Swine Flu, Seasonal Flu, Norovirus, Common cold & Chickenpox. Moreover, as per the Centre for Disease Control, WHO published in The Lancet, Coronavirus pandemic has taken its position in the list of disease deaths per day worldwide with Tuberculosis leading at the top with 3014 deaths/day followed by others and the number deaths of novel coronavirus is 56/day, making it at 17th in the list with most number of deaths/day.
COVID-19 has varied infection rate & diverse underlying symptoms as per different reports released so far. As per a statistics released by China Centre for Disease Control & Prevention from a study of 44,672 confirmed cases in mainland China, 80.9% of infected patients have displayed mild flu like symptoms and have mostly stayed in home quarantine. Some 13.8% of patients have displayed severe symptoms and were required to be immediately hospitalized for observation & treatment with some only 4.7% of cases being critical and requiring intensive medical care attention. From this initial study, It is clear to a point that most cases display insignificant symptoms given the large incubation period of virus and one must remain extra vigilant in areas where the virus has spread given the nature of symptoms as the majority of infections are mild.
Moreover from the same study, it was reported that people with some existing medical conditions are at greater risk of getting infected to this disease. It was revealed that 10.5% of infected ones are those who already have cardiovascular diseases, 7.3% are diabetic, 6.3% have chronic respiratory disease, 6% have abnormally high blood pressure, 5.6% are those who have different types of cancers and some 0.9% is those with no existing medical conditions. From this statistics, it is clear as of now, that people who already have some medical condition as discussed above are at greater risk of infection if steps are not taken in that direction by adopting preventive measures as they already have weaker immune system to resist any further outside intrusion. So, likewise people from this part of world with some underlying medical conditions are required to be extra vigilant and take necessary precautionary measures so to remain at bay in getting infected to this deadly pandemic.
Another fact that is most talked about and same time most disturbing one is the revelation coming from same statista that those aged 60+ are most at risk of getting infected. Though this data comes from the first wave of infections in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of outbreak in mainland china where lung health is poor & smoking rates are high. This painful report is of equal contentious interest in Kashmir where decade’s old tradition of hookah smoking among greater older people is very common and they may be at greater risk if the epidemic takes its recourse in Kashmir, Allah forbid. To make it more clear, it is pertinent to mention that 0% death rate have been reported among the infected aged 0-9. 0.2%, 0.2%, 0.2%, 0.4%, 1.3%, 3.6%, 8%, 14.8% is the death rate among 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 & 80+ age group, respectively making it 1 in 500, 1 in 500, 1 in 500, 1 in 250, 1 in 76, 1 in 27, 1 in 12, 1 in 6 deaths respectively. It is clear from above figures that death rate is more in infectees aged 80+ and there is a greater need to take necessary precautions by each & every person, more particularly aged persons as everybody can get infected to this virus. The overall data updated upto March 09, 2020 suggests that 40% of the total infected ones are currently ill & under medical observation, 56.6% have recovered till date due to current medical interventions keeping them in isolation as there is no drug/vaccine available yet against this virus, with only available multiviral drugs being used on trail basis & are reported to have worked if media reports are to be believed. Only 3.5% of the patients have died so far, keeping the overall death under check as of now.
As per John Hopkins University multiple reports, the fatality rates also vary from country to country attributed to quality of healthcare, average age of population or both factors combined, contributing greatly in keeping the fatalities under check. As of now, China leads the list with most number of confirmed cases, 80738 with 3120 deaths making it a total of 3.9%, a little above the world average rate of 3.5%, followed by other countries with WHO reveling that 90+ countries have already got their names in the list. But more recent reports by WHO confirm that more than 55000+ patients have recovered in the mainland china only which is a very good sign in that direction of containing this deadly pandemic.
As we know, there is every day mention of this pandemic virus by almost everyone in the world right now with Google claiming that COVID-19 has been mentioned 1.1 billion times in the media since this deadly pandemic outbreaked. So everyone is concerned as of now how this deadly virus can be contained and how further transmission can be stopped in absence of any affordable medical intervention available yet. Till anything positive happens in this direction, let’s keep ourselves safe by adopting necessary precautions to prevent the further transmission of this deadly virus and pray to Allah to keep ourselves at a distance, otherwise no one is there who can protect our roots from extinction.
P.S. Follow regular & updated guidelines of WHO & of your respective regional Healthcare authorities, take necessary precautionary measures to prevent yourselves from getting infected and remain under home/hospital observation/isolation if infected to contain this deadly pandemic.
- World Health Organisation updates on COVID-19 pandemic.
- Chinese Centre for Disease Control & Prevention,
- John Hopkins University multiple reports on COVID-19.
The author is Medical Research Scholar (DST INSPIRE Senior Research Fellow) working on “Skin Homeostasis under Genotoxic Stress Conditions” at Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM) Canal Road Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir.
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