A silent plague creeps among the bustling streets and busy communities around the world. A stealthy sickness that not only forces people within its reach to succumb to a severe disease, but also radiates panic that permeates within the recluse of our own homes. The SARS-CoV 2, commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, now stands as a major hurdle that tests our unity, integrity, and resilience against calamities.
Viruses are incredibly small capsule-like structures of proteins or lipids containing a genetic material in the form of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) or Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). Live Science defines viruses as microscopic parasites, in which they inject their genetic material in a host cell and uses its mechanisms to multiply by thousands. Eventually, the cell gets damaged and dies, releasing the virus and infecting other adjacent cells. Soon the damage accumulates, and disease ensues.
The SARS-CoV 2, specifically is a new strain in the family of coronaviruses, named after the crown-like structures outside the virus. These structures are receptors that bind the virus on the surface of a cell and helps it invade a cell. This virus is responsible to the global infectious sickness known as COVID-19. The virus attacks the respiratory system of the people it infects and leads to complications like pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Failure (ARDs), and liver, cardiac, or kidney failure.
Since it has started spreading in Wuhan, China late December last year, the virus has spread worldwide and was acknowledged by WHO as a pandemic. According to World Meters, a website that compiles the statistics regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, as of April 11, 2020 there has been 1,812,970 cases worldwide, with 112,225 deaths and 415.556 recoveries. Among with the most cases is USA, Spain, and Italy. China, the point of origin of the virus, now currently ranks as the 7th country with the most cases. While the fatality rate is relatively low compared to earlier outbreaks of the decade like Ebola in Western Africa or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a small percent will mean tens of thousands of fatalities should this disease spread further.
As of today, no certified vaccine or medication has been approved by scientists anywhere. Once infected, the only way to be cured is to let the body’s immune system do its work. Antibacterial medications are not recommended as bacteria is different from viruses. However, they may be handy if the infection complicates into pneumonia to prevent bacteria from accumulating in the virus-razed lungs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that transmission is possible with close contact or with droplets released when a patient sneezes, coughs, or talks. It can also spread by contact with surfaces the infected person touches. However, infected individuals can also asymptomatic, in which an individual does not show symptoms, or pre-symptomatic, where they initially show no symptoms. The complications of COVID-19 do not typically show after 4-5 days after the point of exposure, but symptoms can also only show after as much as 14 days. This shows the capability of the virus to spread among communities without anyone showing symptoms.
Despite its sneaky spreading mechanisms, the SARS-CoV-19 virus can be eliminated with relative ease before it enters the body. Authorities from around the world encourage social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings as they are some of the best barriers that we can put up to protect ourselves from the virus. Social distancing helps minimize contact between individuals. This reduces the chances of spread from individuals with those with symptoms or are yet to show symptoms. They also advise people to observe proper cough and sneeze etiquette: using a handkerchief or coughing on shoulder or sleeve to minimize the spread of the virus should they are unknowingly infected.
In addition to this, proper hygiene is also crucial in hampering the virus’ spread. The SARS-CoV-2’s capsule structure is made up of lipids. This prevents it from dissolving with water. Soap, on the other hand, alters the structure of lipids, making them soluble in water. While alcohol and hand sanitizers are handy at disinfecting, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is more than enough to kill the viruses and prevent them from entering your body. With something as simple as that, people have the capability of protecting themselves and their loved ones while preventing the spread of CoVID-19.
Most important of all, it is important that we wash away the fears that this pandemic ensues. At times of unrest like these, we must show our cooperation and integrity by following the rules of the government, reaching out and helping the frontliners as much as we can.
The illness that is COVID-19 is silent as it is vicious, radiating fear far beyond the clutches of its microscopic perpetrators. However, with simple acts such as keeping a reasonable distance with other people, observing proper cough and sneeze etiquette, and observing proper hygiene, we can combat these new microscopic menaces. We must hope that when we clear the hurdle that is COVID-19, we can freely step out of our houses and stand proudly as humanity has just overcome another calamity.
By: Bradley Sarmiento
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