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COVID-19: Outbreak continues to ignite panic

COVID-19 Coronavirus blood test 2019-nCoV,SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV chinese infection blood test in Laboratory
Image credit: photovs / 123rf

The World Health Organization (WHO) has, in recent days, moved to officially classify the novel coronavirus under the name COVID-19, as the outbreak continues to sweep the globe.

The virus originated in the capital city of China’s Hubei province, Wuhan. China has recorded its deadliest day thus far due to the COVID-19 outbreak, reporting 254 fatalities on Thursday due to the virus as both the death toll and the number of cases surge. At the time of writing, COVID-19 has claimed 1,384 lives and 64,467 individuals have been confirmed to have been infected with the virus, of whom 7,131 have recovered. Of the 55,952 active COVID-19 cases, 45,341 (81 percent) are individuals who are in mild condition. The remaining 10,611 patients are in serious or critical condition. 

The overwhelming majority of fatalities have been reported from China, with Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines also reporting deaths due to COVID-19. As well as those four countries, cases have been reported in Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Macao, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. 

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has deemed COVID-19 “a common enemy.” Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, will coordinate the response of the United Nations and is heading a crisis management team. 

“We do know, and we all accept, that there is transmission occurring at some level in communities,” Ryan said. “We’ve all seen those clusters, we’ve all seen those super spreading events. The question is how much is happening outside what we see?”

In India, all three confirmed cases were in the state of Kerala. All three patients are students who had been studying in Wuhan and repatriated from the city. 

Screening efforts are underway to control the outbreak. On Monday, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan reported that more than 1.97 lakh passengers from 1,818 flights had been screened for COVID-19 and that screening was underway at twelve major seaports as well as minor ports in addition to 21 major airports. The Union Health Ministry confirmed at the end of January screening would take place at airports including those in Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Trichy, Trivandrum, Varanasi, and Vizag. 

Vardhan has taken steps to assure people concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. “Every effort is being made to ensure that the virus does not make inroads into India,” he said. “People coming in from six countries – China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea – are being screened at as many as 21 airports across the country.” Prime Minister Narendra continues to personally monitor the situation, Vardhan added. In a tweet, he affirmed that “there is political commitment at the highest level to ensure all precautionary steps are taken to contain #COVID2019.” 

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