Mankind is facing one of it’s greatest crisis right now and there seems to be no answer. The world is in grave danger.
There is an epidemic spreading fast all over the world. And this horrible pandemic has been caused by a deadly virus, named Coronavirus or more specifically, the recently discovered and deadly, COVID-19.
But before we dig deeper into the consequences and talk about how India is combating the pandemic, let’s first take a closer look at the microscopic virus that is fast turning cities into graves.
So, what exactly is the Corona Virus or COVID-19?
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), “Corona virus disease is an infectious disease caused by a new virus, ie, the infamous COVID 19. This disease causes respiratory illness (like flu) with symptoms such as cough, fever, and in more severe cases difficulty in breathing”.
It spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. This virus also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
The whole world has become accquinted with a new word ‘Pandemic’.
WHO defines the word pandemic as “the world wide spread of a new disease”.
The World Health Organisation has already declared the Corona virus outbreak a pandemic as the virus continues to spread across the world.
In the late 1960’s, human corona virus was first discovered. The earliest ones discovered were an infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and two in human patients with common cold. Human to human transmission which is called ‘Community transmission’ of Corona virus is primarily thought to occur among close contacts via respiratory droplets generated by sneezing and coughing.
During December, 2019, in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China, the disease was first identified and has since spread globally resulting in 2019-20 Corona Virus Pandemic. Beside some common symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath; muscle pain, diarrhea and sore throat may also be noticed, but are less common. People are infected with this virus through respiratory droplets that may be produced during breathing but it is not considered airbourne. It will only spread when one touches a contaminated surface and then their face. And this virus can be alive on surfaces up to 72 hours. According to WHO, time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between two and fourteen days, with an average of five days. The standard method of diagnosis is, by reverse transcription polymerase chain reception from a nasopharyngeal swab. The disease can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia.
According to WHO, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries and the name of these countries are – China, Italy, Spain and South Korea. There is a point to be noted that, the number of cases in Italy and South Korea are declining significantly, according to WHO.
More than 33,000 people have died from COVID-19 globally so far,while over 700,000 have been confirmed in at least 170 countries and territories. At least 113,000 people have recovered from the Corona virus.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of WHO, spoke on media that he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the ‘alarming levels of inaction’ as the outbreak shows no signs of slowing down. “Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity, some countries are struggling with a lack of resources.” Tedros added. Following the announcement, several countries scaled up their responses in a hurry and put in place even stricter controls.
India, the world’s largest democracy, is desperately fighting to stop the onset of the killer virus being spread among its citizens. Needless to say, if not checked immediately, India can become a hotspot for the disease because of India’s massive population density.
Prime minister Narendra Modi has announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, for checking the spread of the virus that the country is currently observing.
While this is the most severe step taken anywhere in the war of Corona around the world, this seems the only option too.
But are we prepared enough? And most importantly, are we late?
Let’s take a quick look.
The consequences of such a lockdown is significant in a country where millions of citizens are destitutes and daily wage earners. Millions more live in highly populated urban areas with poor sanitation and weak public health care infrastructure. Though the number of reported coronavirus infected persons remains relatively low – around 1000 till now, if it spreads in the community as it has in the United States, Europe or China, the consequences would lead to a disaster far bigger than anywhere else.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the state government will create a ₹200 crore fund to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in our state. She also announced that all educational institutions will be closed till April 15.
The Government has mandated that all educational institutes, religious institutions, cinemas, theatres, shopping malls, auditoriums, restaurants, places which can have any kind of public gathering to remain shut till April 15.
While thousands of daily wagers stuck in various parts of the country flock the streets to try and return home, the Government is desperately trying to keep the virus at bay by trying to introduce the concept of Social Distancing.
All flights, trains and roads to and from around the world and inter state has been stopped for now as hundreds of thousands of Indians practice social distancing and stay put at their homes.
But will this solve a crisis that has plagued the world so vastly?
What happens to the homeless, the uneducated and the poor?
Only time will tell.
Till then, Atithi Devo Bhava only when the virus disappears!
Stay indoors and Stay safe.
We shall overcome!
– Mouli Roy