Novel coronavirus update By Prof Oladapo Ashiru
At the end of February, I had published an article titled ‘Corona Virus Urgent Precautions,’ giving strong warnings on the need to take precaution in our Country and create some checks at the border.
Now in Nigeria, as of the time of writing incoming data from several reporting agencies indicate that there are currently 775,548 cases worldwide, 37,091 deaths, and 164,541 recovered.
In the statistics in Nigeria, we have at the time of writing 131 confirmed cases, two deaths, and eight people have recovered from the disease.
It is for this reason that I have decided to write an updated article on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The update will look at the virus in all its ramifications based on available scientific information, several Government and agencies actions, and give preventive recommendations for individuals, households, and the Government.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019, is part of a family of viruses with a crown- or halo-like (corona) appearance. As explained on the Virginia Department of Health website, seven human coronaviruses have been currently identified:
- Types 229E, NL63, OC43, and KHU1 are quite common and cause mild to moderate respiratory infections such as the common cold.
- SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), discovered in China in 2002, spread to 26 countries before disappearing in 2003. No SARS cases have been reported since 2004, anywhere in the world. As the name implies, SARS-CoV is associated with severe respiratory illness and had a mortality rate of approximately 10 per cent.
- MERS-CoV (the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), discovered in 2012, originated in Saudi Arabia and spread to 27 countries before being contained.
Like SARS, MERS causes more severe respiratory infections than the four common coronaviruses and has a mortality rate of about 35 per cent.
There may be several reasons for this. According to preliminary findings, COVID-19 can remain airborne for three hours and can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days, thus facilitating its spread.
There has been an earlier dispute between the USA and China regarding the origin of the virus. A few days ago, the Chinese Foreign Minister came live on CNN television to accuse USA soldiers of bringing the virus. However, the USA insist it came from China. Bioweapons expert Francis Boyle, also believes COVID-19 was weaponised with “gain of function” properties that allow it to spread through the air up to seven feet, which is higher than average.
COVID-19 appears to affect a disproportionate number of older people; the older you are the higher your susceptibility. The report in Lancet Infectious Disease of March 12, 2020, stated that at present, the mortality rate for COVID-19 is between three per cent and six per cent.
Due to it being an enveloped virus (meaning its single-strand RNA enveloped in a bubble of lipid or fatty molecules), COVID-19 (as all other coronaviruses) is highly susceptible to soap and disinfectants, which is good news. Some disinfectants are more effective than others.
Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do. Through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched.
CDC recommends standard, contact, and airborne precautions for the management of hospitalized patients with known or suspected MERS-CoV infection.
The CDC’s recommendations are consistent with those prescribed for the coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
How to protect yourself
There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection. You may be able to reduce your risk of disease by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by doing the following:
- Stay home while you are sick
- Avoid close contact with others
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
CDC’s guidelines for hand washing
Hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy. You can help yourself, and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these critical times when you are likely to get and spread germs.