Understanding the hows, whys and effects of the coronavirus pandemic: Watch video

First discovered in a cave in the Yunnan Province of China, the coronavirus has been the subject of scientific inquiry for almost a decade now. What started out as a virus gene only presents in bats, has quickly grown to bring in the entire world to a standstill.

Coronavirus gets its name from the Latin word ‘Corona’, meaning crown or wreath because of the crown like protein spikes that cover the virus. Out of the hundreds of known types of the coronavirus, there are only 7 that have an effect on humans and only 3 out of those which can result in deadly diseases. 4 of these viruses cause colds that result in mild, highly contagious infections that affect the nose and throat. These three types can cause SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory syndrome) and Covid-19. SARS and MERS affect the lungs, but it is only the virus SARSCoV-2 that causes what we have come to know as Covid-19. This strain of the virus affects both the lungs and the nose and throat. It is highly contagious and directly affects the lungs. Causing life-threatening diseases.

Simply put, even when an infected person coughs, the droplets containing the virus can disperse and can affect anyone nearby. Exposure to the UV rays from the sun can destroy the soft casing of the virus, but enclosed and cold spaces is where the virus can flourish.

Due to the novelty of the virus, no one has, as of yet, developed immunity to the virus, meaning that it does not necessarily require ideal conditions in which it can infect people. What makes the virus especially deadly is that once infected, the protein spikes embed themselves in the host’s cells and use it to further multiply itself.

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Covid-19 is a type of RNA virus. RNA viruses are those that contain RNA (ribonucleic acid) as their genetic material. They tend to be smaller and have lesser genes. Making it so that they affect more people and one infected multiple quickly in the host body. Another feature of RNA virus is that they are prone to mutations, which is how the virus can be transmitted to another species. Even inside humans, the virus continues to mutate, not enough to infect another species or create a new virus, but enough to make new strains of the original virus.

Once a person has been infected, our cells can work much more quickly to identify a certain virus and get rid of it, but in the case of mutations that becomes difficult as our cells are trained to only look for a particular virus. However, since the Covid-19 virus is larger than most RNA virus and has a higher number of genes, the speed at which it mutates makes it easier to detect and cure. But since we have not yet seen any cure or vaccine developed for any type of coronavirus, it is important to note that the number of people getting infected will be more than those who become immune.  

Watch this explainer videos to understand the hows and whys of coronavirus: 


Safety measures to follow: 

Even though the pandemic has been rapidly spreading since last winter, the tally saw a drop in infections globally which coincided with lockdowns around the world to curb the spread. However, a second-wave of the virus is expected with revised guidelines by WHO in place.

The easiest safety precautions include wearing a face mask, washing and sanitising your hands every time you come in contact with outsiders, eating healthy, exercising and most importantly, staying indoors as much as possible till the pandemic can be controlled; the same has been highlighted by the WHO (World Health Organisation) in their issued guidelines. They also suggest avoiding crowded places and to seek medical help as soon as you develop symptoms of a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

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The WHO has also issued safety measures to be practised while travelling by air. Though most countries have placed a ban on international travel till the virus can be controlled, as we have moved into the 5th month of the pandemic, the restrictions are getting relaxed, and borders are beginning to open up. Economies run on tourism have taken a huge hit and it might be a while before the new normal restores balance.

ALSO READ: Wear masks in public says WHO, in update of Covid-19 advice

The World Health Organization also suggests that the best way to ensure no further infection is to stay in quarantine. “It is prudent for travellers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.”

ALSO READ: Risk-free greetings to replace handshakes, hugs amid Covid-19

We can observe a shift in the most basic things due to the coronavirus, due to fear of contamination, even shaking hands or hugging as a greeting is being discouraged. Alternatives like ‘namaste’ and waving are gaining popularity. The new norm has dictated changes in everything we considered to be an intricate part of our lives. Zoom dates and late-night video-chats have become the only way to keep in touch with your significant other unless you live together. More and more people are working from home as much as they can.

The fashion industry hasn’t been spared either, as masks become a part of our day-to-day lives, major brands have taken to making designer ones. Moreover, as masks cover most of our lower face, people have started to focus on vibrant eye makeup, drawing the attention away from the masks. At the same time, lipstick sales have taken a hit, even though an enhanced mask style, might be the transparent ones!

“As such, like other human habits, the mask has become a mirror on humanity. That so many people, with varying degrees of zeal, have adapted to the discomfort of masking their airways and facial expressions is powerful medicine for the belief that people are fundamentally caring, capable of sacrifice for the common good,” a report by the Associated Press reads.

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