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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the name of the virus that is responsible for causing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has affected 1,359,398 people and caused 75, 945 deaths worldwide as of 7 April 2020.
Coronaviruses are enveloped positive sense RNA viruses that range from 60 nm to 140 nm in diameter. It has spike-like projections on its surface, which gives it a crown-like appearance under the electron microscope, which is the reason it's named coronavirus.
Since the outbreak in late December 2019, there are many things being said about the virus that most people are unaware of. We decode those things here.
1. COVID-19 has been declared pandemic
On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the novel coronavirus a pandemic disease, which indicated that the virus was now a worldwide phenomenon. This means that coronavirus disease can spread and affect a large number of people due to its fast contagious nature.
2. Research around coronavirus is still progressing
Coronaviruses cause respiratory tract illnesses that cause mild to severe symptoms that can affect people of all age groups, severely in older people and people with underlying health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
Numerous studies have shown that the virus transmits from person to person through coughing or sneezing and it can also transmit through bodily fluids such as saliva, blood and stool as well , .
People showing symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue and sore throat, among others were asked to isolate themselves and get their tests done for COVID-19. Soon, study reports emerged that coronavirus infection could be transmitted from asymptomatic people and pre-symptomatic people , .
Soon, scientists detected that the novel coronavirus can stay for up to three hours in aerosols, up to four hours on copper, up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel and up to 24 hours on cardboard .
As days are passing, more information is becoming available. Much recently, Australian scientists revealed that anti-parasitic drug ivermectin has the potent ability to fight coronavirus, however, further clinical trials are needed for it to be used as a medicine in people.
3. A coronavirus vaccine funded by Bill Gates will begin testing in people
A Pennsylvania biotech firm called Inovio Pharmaceuticals is planning to start injecting healthy volunteers with a potential coronavirus vaccine which was developed by them. Their effort received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
The US Food and Drug Administration has accepted the company's DNA vaccine candidate INO-4800 that has been designed to prevent COVID-19, paving the way for human trials in the US beginning this week.
4. Experts are taking necessary steps to address COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued guidelines for taking preventive steps to reduce COVID-19 infection. As community transmission has already started in most of the countries, the health-care experts are taking necessary steps to prevent the virus from spreading uncontrollably.
COVID-19 care centres have been set up for treating mild or very mild cases or even suspected cases of COVID-19. These care centres include hotels, hostels, schools, lodges, stadiums, etc; it can be both public and private.
5. Countries are doing their best to protect citizens
Countries across the globe are detecting, isolating, testing, treating, and tracing their citizens to prevent containment throughout communities. Towns and cities have been locked down and large gatherings have been banned, major sporting events and carnivals have been postponed or cancelled to stop the spread of the virus.
6. If you are sick, what should you do
If you have been experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty in breathing which usually appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. You should call your healthcare provider immediately for faster treatment.
7. Steps to protect yourself
WHO emphasises on the fact that if you haven't travelled to any COVID-19 infected countries or have not been in contact with an infected coronavirus patient, your risk of getting infected is low.
Nevertheless, it is essential to keep yourself and others protected. Everybody should wash their hands with soap and water at least for 20 seconds, maintain six feet distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth after touching any surface, clean and disinfect touched surfaces regularly, and avoid close contact with people.