POST TIME: 26 January, 2020 11:23:08 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 27 January, 2020 01:12:05 PM
Alarm over outbreak in Bangladesh
coronavirus Epidemic

Alarm over outbreak in Bangladesh

The mysterious pneumonia virus that emerged from a live animal market in China's central city of Wuhan last month has now infected far too many people over far too vast a geographic area to be easily controlled, warned experts. The Wuhan Coronavirus—part of a family of viruses common among animals which can cause fever as well as respiratory symptoms when transmitted to humans—has been found in cities all over China, and travellers have since spread the virus to several countries, including Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea as well as Hong Kong and Macau. At least 56 people have died from this new Coronavirus in China following the outbreak in Wuhan, forcing a government lockdown in more than a dozen cities with a population of 56 million. Some 1,975 cases have been reported as of yesterday (Sunday), the vast majority of which are in Wuhan and nearby cities in Hubei province. There is growing concern about the spread of the virus as hundreds of millions travel for the Lunar New Year celebrations across China and South East Asia, which started on Friday.

The Independent talked to Dr Nuruzzaman, former director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), and he said Bangladesh should be concerned about the spread of the virus. He said, “Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and people.”  SARS, for instance, was believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS travelled from a type of camel to humans. According to a CNN report, the name Coronavirus comes from the Latin word ‘corona’, meaning ‘crown’ or ‘halo’. Under an electron microscope, the image of the virus is reminiscent of a solar corona. Dr Nuruzzaman said signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, he said. The incubation period of the Coronavirus remains unknown. Some reports published in the global media say it could be between 10 and 14 days.  According to a report in Harvard University’s medical review, the new virus may not be as deadly as other types of Coronavirus such as SARS, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide during a 2002–03 outbreak. It, too, originated from China. MERS, which did not spread as widely, was more deadly, killing a third of those it infected. Dr Nuruzzaman said the principles governing basic infectious diseases are key to curbing the spread of this virus. “Wash your hands regularly. Cover coughs and sneezes with your inner elbow. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. Stay home from work or school if you have a fever. Stay away from people who have signs of a respiratory tract infection, such as runny nose, coughing and sneezing,” he said. A report in Harvard’s medical review said scientists are working hard to understand the virus, and Chinese health authorities have posted its full genome in international databases. Currently, there are no approved antivirals for this particular Coronavirus, and, so, treatment is supportive.