This story was published on January 28, 2020. It has now been updated.
As panic about the Coronavirus virus has gripped the world, our worst fears have just been confirmed: the virus has reached India. A student in Kerala who studies at Wuhan University, China has been tested positive. The patient has been isolated at a hospital and is being kept under observation.
On Monday, the state of Bihar reported the first case of suspected Coronavirus in India. Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) isolated a 29-year-old research scholar, who returned from China’s Tianjin last week, according to a news report in Hindustan Times. The virus has killed at least 80 people in China and infected thousands of people across the globe. The patient is a PhD student of neuroscience at Tianjin, and had flown into Kolkata from China on January 22 and reached her home in Chapra, Bihar a day after.
Her family checked her into Saran Sadar Hospital on Sunday, after she started experiencing symptoms like mild fever along with cold and cough. Later, she was moved to PMCH.
“We are administering her normal saline, paracetamol and analgesic for pain, if any, which may develop with fever. Our emergency has been put on high alert and the patient has been kept in an isolation ward on the first floor of our emergency after she was brought to our hospital around 10 am today,” said Dr Bimal Karak, PMCH superintendent.
Since Bihar does not have the facility to conduct a test for coronavirus, her blood serum sample to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune for testing.
Ever since news of the deadly virus spread, there has been panic all over the world. On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation was alerted about several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, that was caused by an unknown virus. A week later, Chinese authorities identified a new virus, which causes respiratory illnesses. Here’s what you should know about the virus.
According to the WHO, the coronavirus is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus). This new virus has been temporarily named “2019-nCoV.” These viruses are common among animals, however, on rare occasions, they can be transmitted from animals to humans. Symptoms of this virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath–much like any other respiratory infection. In serious cases, certain strains of the coronavirus can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and death.
Since the virus is new, at present, there is no treatment for the virus. There is also no vaccine that people can take to protect themselves from infection. This is why there has been so much widespread panic about the coronavirus. However, this doesn’t mean that every person who has been infected will die. According to experts, most people with common human coronaviruses will recover on their own. More dangerous strains of the virus, such as SARS and MERS, have 11% and 35% fatality rates, respectively.
According to Chinese authorities, hundreds of people came in contact with the virus but did not fall ill or display symptoms–this lead them to believe that while the virus is contagious, it is not easily transmitted between humans.
In India, 11 people have been kept under observation as suspected cases, but there hasn’t been a single confirmed case of the coronavirus yet. Hence, if you live in India, there isn’t any need to panic yet. However, it’s best to stay alert. Avoid travel to China, or countries with confirmed cases if possible. If that is unavoidable, follow this WHO advisory to avoid infection:
At present, the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to avoid international travel for the time being. If you’ve recently returned from any of the countries that have reported confirmed cases and notice flu-like symptoms, please visit a hospital immediately. Besides that, the best thing you can do is remain calm and not fall for false information that is being spread on the internet that causes unnecessary panic.
Featured Image: Shutterstock
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