The Pandemic of Corona virus and beyond

Dr. (Prof.) Mukut Roy

April 16, 2020, 07:58:59   

An apparently imperceptible course which was originally found in wild animals made the leap to humans again. Diseases of animal origin and caused by virus such as Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, bird flu and swine flu have raised alarm over potential pandemics in recent years and the corona virus pandemic has confirmed the worst fears. Today, a novel corona virus that can move effortlessly from human to human has found a large reservoir of hosts in a globalized world. But, unlike previous epidemics, the latest one has extracted overwhelming toll, forcing a lockdown and causing economic devastation. As COVID-19 spreads exponentially across the sphere, profound uncertainty and extreme volatility are wreaking havoc all over the world. Few months ago, only few in our country would have thought that in a month's time we would be confined to our homes and with all the disruptions that we are facing now.

Even as the number of laboratory confirmed cases in Wuhan and other parts of mainland China has come down in the last few days, the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 disease remains unchecked in a few countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is "impressed" with India's response to novel coronavirus pandemic. This may or may not lead to spike in the fresh cases of novel coronavirus in India. COVID-19 is a new threat with many dimensions and remains an unknown territory. In the US, novel coronavirus vaccine has been used in its first clinical trial. Israel is also very close to the same path. Similarly, India has become one of the few countries to isolate the virus SARS-CoV-2, which would help develop drugs, vaccine and rapid-test kits. Though many of us still remain reluctant but many also feel the possibility of becoming its next target. Therefore, like all good citizens of our country, let us behave responsibly and in a disciplined manner.

Good thing is that at present, there are at least two very effective vaccines against novel coronavirus spread. These are behavior and attitude vaccine. There are four ways of behavior vaccine. In behavior vaccine, first is to carry sterile tissues that you will use every time you cough or sneeze anywhere, not necessarily in public. If you don't have tissues, use clean handkerchief that you shall wash with detergent before you use it again. While going out for work, we should preferably use a mask to minimize the exposure considering the global scenario today. Second, wash your hands frequently during the day. Use soap to clean your hands. Make sure that you rub it for at least 20 to 30 seconds on both sides of your hands. In extremely exceptional cases, if you are at a place where you cannot use soap, use alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol. Third, please try to stop being infatuated about your own face. Mouth, nose and eyes are the principal routes through which the novel coronavirus enters human body and then multiplies very fast. Our hands are the means for a variety of pathogen to enter our bodies. Then, when we touch our mouth, eyes and nose, we transport them into our body system. And fourth, stand at distance from other people. We are habitually suited to rub shoulders of others standing in a queue even. However considering current scenario, practice social distancing. This distance could be a minimum of two meter. This is usually the influence radius of a person's cough and sneeze although exception remains.

In the attitude vaccine, we need to be positive; love ourselves, family, friends, neighbours, society and the country. Considering the poor resources of our country; we should not only love ourselves but also to help the persons in need. Avoid hand shaking. "Namaste", the traditional Indian greeting, has become a global favorite. Bonding with doctors, nurses and paramedics are utmost importance. As our honorable Prime Minister is guiding us for the same reason, we may carry the same responsibility to keep their morals high. We must remember that while we are staying at home in the lockdown, doctors and nurses are going to the duty to save our lives. Therefore, if we think positive, travel and other restrictions may narrow the options of income but may again enhance the individual and family savings. Probably, family bonding is also becoming better. Universities and other institutions of higher education started classes with online options, of course. Roads are much less crowded, pollution; being at minimum and the air is cleaner. Wearing mask is no more a social taboo; rather now a good to follow habit.

But the novel coronavirus pandemic, known as Covid-19, could not have been more predictable. While we were busy to tackle the non-communicable diseases, Covid-19 marks the return of an old; somewhat familiar and this time more powerful enemy. There are several reasons for this. For one, over the past 50 years, we have more than doubled the number of people on the planet. This means more human beings to get infected and in turn to infect others, especially in densely populated cities. We also have more livestock now and viruses can leap from those animals to us. A big question comes to the presence of wet markets also. Does my state wet market also need similar surveillance? If at all whether our fish and meat markets may create same scenario in near future? Do we have a mindset to prevent this? And, if at all, how to do that? This also reminds us that infectious diseases pandemic have not vanished.

Covid-19 is very much a disease of the moment, emerging in a crowded city in a newly prosperous and connected China before spreading to the rest of the world in a matter of months. But our response to it has been both probably and practically medieval as there are no other options. Therefore, we need to strengthen the antennae of personnel and also global health, to ensure that when the next virus emerges which seems it will; we will catch it faster, remain more prepared and eradicate it faster.

International news clips show that Medical staff cheers themselves up before going into ICU ward for Covid-19 patients. Our honorable Prime Minister understands the gravity of the situation, encourages the doctors, taking bold steps and leading us with a good example. But is that enough if we do not change ourselves? Covid-19 is highlighting serious deficiencies in our thought system. Which way to choose? Should we start criticizing the medical staffs without knowing what they face mentally? What is hopefully clear is that all these scenarios leave some grounds for distress, but also some for hope.

Friends, we have to build up a strong team of soldiers and doctors who are not physically fit but also mentally and morally. "I know" with "I believe"


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