COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for the virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’
Where did the coronavirus come from?
In December 2019, an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown origin was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The global spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the thousands of deaths caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) led the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic on 12 March 2020. To date, the world has paid a high toll on this pandemic in terms of human lives lost, economic repercussions, and increased poverty.
Experts say SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats. That’s also how the coronaviruses behind the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) got started.
SARS-CoV-2 made the jump to humans at one of Wuhan’s open-air “wet markets.” They’re where customers buy fresh meat and fish, including animals that are killed on the spot.
Some wet markets sell wild or banned species like cobras, wild boars, and raccoon dogs. Crowded conditions can let viruses from different animals swap genes. Sometimes the virus changes so much it can start to infect and spread among people.
Still, the Wuhan market didn’t sell bats at the time of the outbreak. That’s why early suspicion also fell on pangolins, also called scaly anteaters, which are sold illegally in some markets in China. Some coronaviruses that infect pangolins are similar to SARS-CoV-2.
As SARS-CoV-2 spread both inside and outside China, it infected people who have had no direct contact with animals. That meant the virus is transmitted from one human to another. It’s now spreading in the U.S. and around the globe, meaning that people are unwittingly catching and passing on the coronavirus. This growing worldwide transmission is what is now a pandemic.
How it spreads?
Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, typically within 1 meter (short-range). A person can be infected when aerosols or droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes, and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face.
Which vaccines is India using?
India initially approved the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine (manufactured under license by Serum Institute of India under the trade name Covishield) and Covaxin (a vaccine developed locally by Bharat Biotech). They have since been joined by the Sputnik V (manufactured under license by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories) and Moderna vaccines, and other vaccine candidates undergoing local clinical trials.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal.
These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. It’s important to remember that key prevention measures are the same – frequent hand washing, and respiratory hygiene (cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue into a closed bin).
How is India’s rollout going?
Since 16 January, India has administered more than 390 million doses.
Some 315 million people have received the first dose and 79 million have received both doses so far.
On Friday, India reported 38,949 new Covid cases – less than a tenth of its caseload at the peak of the second wave in early May.
But doctors say that a third wave is inevitable given that the country has fully reopened even as the threat of new variants looms large.
The drop in the average number of daily vaccine doses is also worrying experts.
And there is a gender gap – government data shows 14% fewer women are getting vaccinated. This is especially true in rural India where women have limited access to the internet and are hesitant or scared to take the vaccine.
Although a higher number of doses are being administered daily in rural areas, the share of population being vaccinated in urban areas is still greater.
Prevention of coronavirus
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Protect yourself and others around you by knowing the facts and taking appropriate precautions. Follow advice provided by your local health authority.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.
- Calling in advance allows your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This protects you, and prevents the spread of viruses and other infections.
Masks can help prevent the spread of the virus from the person wearing the mask to others. Masks alone do not protect against COVID-19 and should be combined with physical distancing and hand hygiene. Follow the advice provided by your local health authority.
Covid Third wave
New Delhi: Days after saying that third wave can hit India in six to eight weeks if COVID-appropriate behavior is not followed, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday said the third wave is likely to strike the country in September-October as several states have lifted restrictions and people have started traveling from place to place.