Corona Virus, an avoidable calamity
The corona virus outbreak that has occurred in Wuhan, China and is now afflicting more than 31,000 people across 26 nations is dominating the news globally. From being hailed as the much-awaited ‘Zombie scenario’, to becoming the feared end of the world situation, this outbreak seems to be equal parts silly entertainment and serious concern. But, for all intents and purposes, this is a serious matter, especially considering how global transportation and communication channels have effectively made the world a global village. This facilitates the fast transfer of pathogens to all corners of the globe in a very limited time frame, and that is just how viruses like it.
The scientific nomenclature for this specific corona virus (It is an umbrella term covering a wide variety of viruses) is the ‘2019-nCoV’, and it is the newest mutation in this family, and a very great one from the perspective of the virus kingdom. Unfortunately, that does not bode well for those of us who reside in the animal kingdom, specifically those mammalian creatures, that we humans are, which seem to provide the virus with the perfect place within which to find nourishment, incubate and have many millions of replicated offspring to go forth and find new hosts. The problem with this virus is its innate ability to spread through close proximigty and bodily fluids, especially respiratory droplets within a 6 feet range. It has also been known to be present in the stool of infected victims, something which speaks volumes about this viruses’ spreading mechanism. Not only that, but this virus can survive for extended time periods outside the host body, though the exact time it can do so is still up for debate from a few hours to even months. This is something very dangerous in a virus. Though it has a death rate of only 2%, considering the huge number of people that it can infect, it has the potential of trouncing even the dreaded Ebola virus in terms of danger and death toll.
But, the question is whether this could have been avoided? The epicentre of this viral outbreak is considered to be the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market situated in Wuhan. It is one of the larger meat markets in China, which is saying something. Among the more exotic meat sold here is otters, beavers, porcupines and bats, the last among which is a kno9wn vector for various viruses and bacterium that can be transmitted in humans. The extremely unsanitary conditions of the market are the perfect breeding ground for viruses, case in point, the corona virus. If the markets were kept to regulation standards and basic knowledge of public hygiene would be understood and imparted, then this issue would not have been raised to begin with. Fortunately, courses such as the Master’s program in Public Health offered at MIT-WPU aim at precisely ensuring these viral epidemics are managed efficiently and that the pre-conditions required for a viral outbreak are arrested before they are created.