For more than a decade Africa has been battling with all sorts of diseases especially tropical diseases. The war against these diseases can be traced back as far as the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial era in Africa, from sleeping sickness to smallpox to malaria. It should also be noted that black magic in Africa is also another cause of death in Africa which cannot be proven scientifically unlike other causes of death like malaria, cholera and cancer.
A new type of virus has recently emerged in Wuhan called the novel coronavirus. It is widely said that this virus has taken the lives of many in China and is silently expanding to other countries causing serious panic and fear worldwide. This new virus may lead to an increase in the number of death due to disease in Africa because the continent lacks sustainable ways to best manage and defeat these diseases.
Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
The World Health Organization on December 31st 2019 was alerted by Chinese authorities reporting several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan and major active city China. The new Coronavirus is thought to have originated in a seafood market, where wildlife was also sold illegally. Scientist comparing the genetic sequences of the new coronavirus with those of other known coronavirus have suggested it likely originated in snakes while some have confirmed its existence among bats.
What is a Coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In rare cases, they are what scientist call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans.
They circulate in animals and some can be transmitted between animals and humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. The new coronavirus has been named novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV). It is the seventh coronavirus known to affect humans.
What are the Symptoms?
Common signs of infection include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and death. In addition, appearance of symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache, and feeling of being unwell should be reported immediately to a physician.
The incubation period of the new coronavirus is thought to be between one and 14 days. The virus is contagious before symptoms appear.
How it spreads
Human coronavirus most commonly spread from an infected person to others in several ways, namely, through the air by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and, albeit rare, fecal contamination.
How many people are affected and which countries are at risk?
Current statistics from Chinese authorities depict a death toll of 305 people in mainland China and Philippines. The Philippines marked the first ever death occurring outside of China. It was a 44 year old Chinese man from Wuhan who was admitted to the hospital on Jan.25 with fever, cough, and sore throat, developed severe pneumonia but in the last few days “was stable and showed signs of improvement: however, the condition of the patient deteriorated within his last 24 hours resulting in his demise.” This was confirmed and reported by the Philippines Department of Health. It should also be important to note that China has the highest number of cases which is estimated at 14,462.
Countries with identified cases of the virus are Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, Taiwan, Macao, USA, Malaysia, Vietnam, France, UAE, Canada, Philippines, UK, Italy, Russia, India, Finland, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Spain.
African countries like Nigeria and Ivory Coast have kicked off actions against the coronavirus and set up measures to fight these diseases. Nigerian officials raided and shut down a popular Chinese supermarket in Abuja this week over concerns about the spreading coronavirus. It widely said that the closed supermarket is a major gathering spot for Chinese’s citizens and expatriates living in the Nigerian capital. The aisles and checkout area of the Panda Supermarket are usually packed with shoppers but were empty Friday, two days after officials of the Nigeria’s federal competition and consumer protection commission (FCCPC) closed the market.
Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene announced that health officials are dealing with a suspected case of coronavirus. Since the outbreak began in Wuhan, several African countries have introduced extra screening on flights arriving from China while some countries in Europe and North America have halted all flight going to China.
Currently, the transmission rate of the virus is three-to-four (three/four people are infected from one case), fatality rate is two per cent (two deaths for every 100 cases), the incubation period is 2-14 days (up to two weeks without symptoms) with 27 countries currently reporting cases.
Effect on China
After the WHO declared a global health emergency over the virus on January 30th, the U.S. and U.K. and several other countries are working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, and the wider Hubei province in some cases, as airlines around the world suspend their flights to China.
However, efforts to contain the outbreak have caused major disruption in China, with almost 20 cities facing travel restrictions, affecting at least 56 million people. Screening stations have been set up in busses, trains and plane terminals nationwide but will definitely have dire consequence on the Chinese economy.
People around the world are urged to follow local safety measures. WHO recommends basic hand hygiene such as washing hands with soap and water, and making sure to cover your mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing. WHO also recommends avoiding unnecessary and unprotected contact with animals, and stresses washing your hands thoroughly after contact. Other safety measures include avoiding close contact with people who are sick, spitting in public, and touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; throwing tissue into a closed bin after use; and, seeking medical care if you have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties.
WHO is working towards expanding scientific knowledge on this novel coronavirus to prevent the further spread of this outbreak.
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