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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A rose by other name ! ~ Corona Virus is officially named COVID-19

Certainly a topic which none would like to read and get to know more details .. sad it is an epidemic of mammoth proportions !

An epidemic (from Greek  epi "upon or above") is the rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less. Epidemics of infectious disease are generally caused by several factors including a change in the ecology of the host population. Generally, an epidemic occurs when host immunity to either an established pathogen or newly emerging novel pathogen is suddenly reduced below that found in the endemic equilibrium and the transmission threshold is exceeded. The epidemic triangle is essentially an equation. It posits that every outbreak, regardless of its specific traits, is dependent on the interplay between three factors: the pathogen (the agent causing infection), the host (the organism at risk of infection) and the environment (the setting where the infections occur). Every single epidemic — be it the flu, cholera or even behavioral epidemics like drunken driving — is the result of a dynamic shift in one of these points of the epidemic triangle, which then causes a domino effect leading to a sudden explosion of new cases.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is a popular reference to William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her family's rival house of Montague, that is, that he is named "Montague". The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

The whole World is concerned and talking about a deadly virus, derived from that word meaning crown or halo, which refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virions): they have a fringe reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona. A corona (meaning 'crown' in Latin derived from Ancient Greek) is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars. The Sun's corona extends millions of kilometres into outer space and is most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but it is also observable with a coronagraph. Light from the corona comes from three primary sources, from the same volume of space.

The news is the coronavirus causing a deadly outbreak in China has been named COVID-19, the World Health Organization has announced. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the global body, announced the new name at a conference in Geneva this afternoon. It comes almost six weeks after the virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, China, in late December. Since then it has infected more than 43,000 people and killed 1,018. The virus, which has had various names from simply coronavirus to Wuhan coronavirus, Chinese coronavirus or even snake flu, needs its own moniker because it is just one type of coronavirus.

The word refers to a group of viruses which contains those that cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Coronaviruses are so named because their structure has jagged edges which look like a royal crown – corona is crown in Latin.  'Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease. 'Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks. A name had been expected since scientists at the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) last week announced they had decided on one.

The name COVID-19 has now been approved and will hopefully be used by 'everybody', the WHO said, to avoid stigmatising or confusing names.  It also allows for it to refer to the 'entire spectrum of clinical conditions' which the virus can cause, said WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, meaning it is not specific to certain symptoms.  SARS and MERS on the other hand, have names which only refer to the effects they have on the lungs – the respiratory effects – and not anything else. The World Health Organization has an international set of rules which scientists must follow when proposing new names for a virus. They must not contain references to certain places in the world, communities, human names or animals because they may cause a 'backlash' or racism. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is listed as a bad example, as well as Spanish Flu, Lyme disease, Japanese encephalitis, swine flu, bird flu and monkey pox.  Other words to avoid are ones which might induce fear, such as 'unknown', 'death', 'fatal' or 'epidemic'.

So that deadly epidemic that has caused death of more than 1000 people in China has a name.  Streets wear a deserted look in Beijing, a city home to more than 20million people, as people stay home out of fear of catching the virus. Hazmat-wearing laboratory technicians are pictured talking to residents of the city of Linyi, where they are investigating the virus.  The danger when you don't have an official name is that people start using terms like China Virus, and that can create a backlash against certain populations.

Health bulletins state that someone who is infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze. At least 1,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 43,000 have been infected in at least 28 countries and regions. But some media predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. 

A coronavirus (now COVID 19) is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body's normal functions. The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak.  Scientists state that Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31. According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation. Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.  However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.  Antibiotics do not work against viruses, Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take long time and huge amounts of money. Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people. People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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