By Arnold Neliba
The world Health Organisation (WHO) defines Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered Coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.
Although media reports backtrack the first case of the virus to November 2019, official statements by the Chinese government to the World Health Organisation reported that the first confirmed case was diagnosed on December 8 in Wuhan.
“COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus. From phylogenetics analyses undertaken with available full genome sequences, bats appear to be the reservoir of COVID-19 virus, but the intermediate host(s) has not yet been identified. However, three important areas of work are already underway in China to inform our understanding of the zoonotic origin of this outbreak,” reads a report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019.
Early cases identified in Wuhan are believed to be have acquired infection from a zoonotic source as many reported visiting or working in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. Given Wuhan’s transport hub status and population movement during the Chinese New Year (chunyun), infected individuals quickly spread throughout the country, and were particularly concentrated in cities with the highest volume of traffic with Wuhan.
“…a comprehensive set of interventions, including aggressive case and contact identification, isolation and management and extreme social distancing, have been implemented to interrupt the chains of transmission nationwide,” reads the report.
Part of the recommendations of the taskforce were that all the uninfected countries prepare to immediately activate the highest level of emergency response mechanisms to trigger the all-of-government and all-of society approach that is essential for early containment of Covid-19. Governments were directed to enforce rigorous application of infection prevention and control measures. Most of the government leaders were at crossroads, the only way to prevent entry of the virus into their boarders was by imposing a lockdown, restricting entry of nationals from affected countries which would in turn affect the economy of the country.
On January 30 representatives of the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China reported 7711 confirmed cases and 12167 suspected cases throughout the country. Of the confirmed cases, 1370 were severe and 170 people had died. Worldwide, there were 83 cases in 18 countries and according to the WHO, only 7 had no history of travel in China.
The first confirmed cases outside mainland china occurred in Japan, South Korea and Thailand with Philippines reporting the first Covid-19 related death outside China. In a few days cases were confirmed in India, Philippines, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the US, the UAE and Vietnam prompting the WHO to declare the corona virus a global emergency on March 11.
“This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, at a media briefing. “So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fights.”
The world has witnessed a steep rise in Coronavirus cases from 7,818 on January 30, 85,403 to on February 29, 750,000 on March 31 and at April 20 2,314,621 people globally have tested positive for Covid-19 with 157,847 worldwide.
The last disease declared a pandemic by the WHO was the H1N1 influenza virus, also known as swine flu, which killed more than 18,000 people in more than 214 countries and territories in 2009 and 2010.