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HEALTH

Coronavirus or COVID-19 here’s all you need to know about it

Rohit Sapra Rohit Sapra 16 March 2020

Coronavirus, a deadly disease has almost taken the entire world in its grasp. Recently, the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic and has advised caution. This deadly respiratory disease has landed on the Indian sub-continent and India reported its first case on 30th January 2020. Read on to know more about it!

Coronavirus or COVID-19

Health experts throughout the world are scrambling to fight this virus on various fronts by trying to find out more about this deadly disease. Experts and governments around the globe are trying to contain the spread by tracking it and containing it as best possible. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Coronavirus or COVID-19 a pandemic after more than 161,028 confirmed cases and 5,973 deaths have been recorded globally, from this 80,849 cases and 3200 deaths are from China alone. Out of these only 75,959 people have recovered from it as on 15th March 2020.

Here is an attempt to share the maximum possible information about this disease by compiling information from various news and media sources

Table of Contents

  • About Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
  • Where did Coronavirus come from?
  • How dangerous is Coronavirus?
  • How fast is Coronavirus spreading?
  • Can we treat Coronavirus?
  • How to protect yourself against Coronavirus or COVID-19?
  • How is India trying to stop Coronavirus?
  • Should I cancel my trip?
  • How is Coronavirus affecting businesses in India?

About Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Coronavirus (CoV) is a large family or a cluster of viruses that cause a host of illnesses which ranges from small illnesses like common cold and fever to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The COVID-19 is a new strain which was discovered in 2019, this was never identified in human previously.

Where did Coronavirus come from?

The World Health Organization was informed by the Public Health Officials of China that in December of 2019 they had encountered a problem; a new form of the unknown virus was causing illness whose symptoms and effects were similar to pneumonia in the city of Wuhan. It was quickly concluded that the virus spreading throughout the region and increasing its influence throughout China was Coronavirus. The kind of animal from which this virus came from originally is still not clear, however, according to one research it has come to the light that the genetic sequence is 96% identical to one form of coronavirus that is found in bats. Previously also, both SARS and MERS originated from bats.

How dangerous is Coronavirus?

Source:https://tinyurl.com/tcnzz9h

The WHO has declared the COVID-19 as a serious illness and is more dangerous than flu, its symptoms range from the mild category like the ones found in cold to that of a more severe kind. On analysis of the confirmed cases, it can be concluded that around 80% of confirmed cases are mild, while 15% of the cases are severe enough requiring the patient to be hospitalized and about 5% of these are in the critical stage. Furthermore of these critical patients around 50% have been reported dead. So far around only 2 to 3% of the people who have been infected with Coronavirus or COVID-19 have died, however, there is a fear factor lurking in the shadows that it is still too early to comment as the outbreak is still in the progression level.

How fast is Coronavirus spreading?

The virus is fast taken the entire world in its deadly grasp with 1,61,028 confirmed cases and 5,973 deaths globally from which 3200 death cases are from china alone and only about 75,959 people recovering from it as on 15th March 2020. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across India stands at 107 which includes Indian and Foreign Nationals with 2 deaths reported in the state of Delhi and Karnataka.

The virus is moving at a fast pace throughout the world. The virus jumps between people who are in very close contact with each other. It also probably spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Coughs and sneezes produce little droplets of mucus and saliva. If these droplets make it into another person’s eyes, mouth or nose, they can get sick. The viruses in those little droplets can also fall onto surfaces, like tables or doorknobs - if someone touches that surface and touches their eyes, mouth or nose, they can also get sick. Early research shows that the virus can linger on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for a few days, which is why it’s important to clean countertops, doorknobs, and other places people touch regularly. The virus doesn’t appear to stay infectious on cardboard for longer than a day hence packages should be safe. The new coronavirus doesn’t appear to spread through the air.

Can we treat Coronavirus?

Currently, there aren’t any proven treatments for Coronavirus or COVID-19 disease. Research teams and pharmaceutical companies are also working around the clock to study more about the virus and develop a vaccine for curing and protecting people from infection. Though all said and done, vaccine development takes a long time which generally ranges around a year to 18 months before one is available. As reported by the Economic Times, The Drug Controller General of India has currently granted approval to the Indian Council of Medical Research to use a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir in the event of the coronavirus disease in India turns into a public health emergency. Lopinavir and Ritonavir have already been approved for the treatment of HIV.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals is also assessing the availability of the required drugs in the country on account of the increase in cases of coronavirus infection. As per a report submitted by a committee formed by the department has revealed that the existing stock of APIs will be sufficient to manufacture the required drugs for two to three months. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority and Drugs Controller General of India along with other various agencies have been instructed to ensure an adequate supply of APIs and check black-marketing or illegal hoarding. The organisations have also been asked to monitor the availability of APIs and drugs.

How to protect yourself against Coronavirus or COVID-19?

Here are a few steps that everyone must follow to protect themselves and others from Coronavirus

  • Practice frequent hand washing. Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub. Wash hands even if they are visibly clean.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with handkerchief/tissue while sneezing and coughing.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Throw used tissues into closed bins immediately after use.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Avoid participating in large gatherings or spitting in public.
  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.
  • See a doctor if you feel unwell (fever, difficult breathing and cough). While visiting doctor wear a mask/cloth to cover your mouth and nose.

Here are a few steps that everyone must follow to protect themselves and others from Coronavirus

  • Practice frequent hand washing. Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub. Wash hands even if they are visibly clean.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with handkerchief/tissue while sneezing and coughing.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Throw used tissues into closed bins immediately after use.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Avoid participating in large gatherings or spitting in public.
  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.
  • See a doctor if you feel unwell (fever, difficult breathing and cough). While visiting doctor wear a mask/cloth to cover your mouth and nose.

How is India trying to stop Coronavirus?

  • The government of India has announced a number of precautionary measures for reducing the entry and spread of this deadly virus. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has appealed to Indians to avoid mass gatherings. A control room operational 24×7 to address queries has been launched.
  • From 04 March 2020, India mandated universal screening at all airports in the country due to the rise in coronavirus cases. Thermal screening process has been installed at 21 airports including those in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Cochin to check for coronavirus in India. Universal screening has been mandated for flights coming in from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand at the aero-bridges ear-marked for the purpose. At the same time screening measures have also been implemented at 12 major seaports and 65 minor seaports and land borders.
  • Two quarantine centres have been set-up to isolate any passengers showing symptoms of the infection. One centre is located at Manesar, Haryana, and is managed by Armed Forces Medical Services, while the second is located at Chawla Camp in New Delhi and is managed by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

The Indian government has also kept up with its legacy of bringing back its people from foreign countries in case of an emergency.

Here’s a brief on the recent evacuations done by the Indian Government:

  • 31 January 2020 - 324 Indian citizens from Wuhan in a special Air India flight on.
  • 01 February 2020 - 330 passengers, including 7 Maldivian citizens evacuated from Wuhan.
  • 26 February 2020 - A total of 76 Indian nationals and 36 foreign nationals were evacuated in a special flight from Wuhan on.
  • 10 March 2020 - The first flight carrying 58 Indian nationals from Iran landed in Ghaziabad on.

Should I cancel my trip?

  • The saying, “Prevention is Better than Cure” is worth it’s every letter weighed in gold under the current circumstances. It is highly advised that one should avoid travelling if it is not extremely necessary. Under the same philosophy, the Indian government has cancelled visas for foreign nationals travelling from affected countries. Here is a short timeline on the same. 05 February 2020: India announced the cancellation of existing e-visas issued to all foreign nationals of China, and advised Indians to avoid travelling to China.
  • 27 February 2020: India announced that people travelling to China will be quarantined upon return. India temporarily suspended visa on arrival for Japanese and South Korean nationals.
  • 03 March 2020: India announced the suspension of all visas issued to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan who have not yet entered the country. Visas issued to foreign nationals who travelled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan who have not yet entered the country have also been cancelled.
  • This cancellation is not applicable to diplomats, officials of the international bodies, OCI cardholders and aircrew although medical screening is mandatory for all. Medical screening and submission of self-declaration form including travel history for all passengers arriving from the restricted countries is also mandatory. The Indian government has mandated that non-resident Indians (NRIs) arriving in the country should carry a coronavirus-negative certificate from designated hospitals in the countries they are travelling from. Self-quarantine is mandated to passengers arriving in India from China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand,
  • Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany. The Indian government is expected to extend visa cancellations to more countries with the fresh cases reported in Maharashtra, Delhi and Bangalore.

How is Coronavirus affecting businesses in India?

  • Coronavirus is expected to bring both opportunities and challenges to Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers, while trade with China is expected to take a severe hit. Initial estimates of the COVID-19 impact on India’s trade were $348m, but likely to increase given the global spread. With China under lockdown, India is expected to witness a major impact on imports and exports in various industries including pharmaceuticals, electronics, mobiles, and auto parts. China is the biggest exporter to India, followed by the US and UAE.

  • India’s overdependence on China for APIs exposes it to raw material supply disruption and price volatility. Another major hindrance to the Indian pharmaceutical industry is its low capacity utilisation, according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI). India has a capacity utilisation between 30% and 40% as against 75% of China. Mankind Pharma and Granules India are airlifting APIs and other input materials for their manufacturing due to limited land movements and shipping delays from China as inventories are drying.

  • Although the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could have a significant impact on the Indian pharmaceutical industry it also provides an opportunity to India’s pharmaceutical manufacturers to grab share from their Chinese competitors.

  • A report from MCI, however, noted that improving the overall capacity utilisation of existing manufacturing plants in India as a short-term solution to such supply disruptions. The report noted the need for assured purchase agreements from the government for the existing manufacturing plants. It also noted that the government should absorb the price differential to improve capacity utilisation.
  • The DGFT has also issued a ban on the export of personal protection equipment such as respiratory masks and protective overalls, on 31 January. The exact reason for the ban has not been notified, though.

Source: Economic Times, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, World Health Organization, worldometers.info, informationisbeautiful.net, theverge.com, pharmaceutical-technology.com

Rohit Sapra
Written by Rohit Sapra
Rohit Sapra, a licentiate, and currently an SME, is a seasoned insurance professional with previous work experience from Kotak and Birla Sun Life Insurance.