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Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in China: Should India be Worried?

Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in China: Should India be Worried?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently monitoring a virus outbreak caused by a new Coronavirus (named COVID-19) or the Novel Coronavirus, first reported from Wuhan City in China. It has resulted in 80,270 confirmed human infections and 2,981 deaths within China, and few cases in Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, France, Italy, and the US.


As the COVID-19 spreads outside China, India has stepped up to prepare for any new virus outbreak.


Although the exact source of the COVID-19 is yet to be determined, medical experts believe it may have originated through transmission from live animals to humans (zoonotic) at a seafood and animal market in Wuhan City, China. It is also being called the Wuhan illness or the Wuhan virus, due to its source being Wuhan City.


However, new updates from Chinese health officials have also confirmed two cases of human-to-human transmission in the province of Guangdong, and another case in the US, suggesting its similarity with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), an epidemic which claimed 800 lives in China in 2002.


“The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for ongoing active monitoring and preparedness in other countries,” the World Health Organization said in a statement.


What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?




Coronavirus (CoV) is a family of viruses that cause severe illnesses ranging from a common cold to a more severe disease called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus gets its name from their crown-shaped appearance when seen under a microscope.


The deadly Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus, and while the exact source of the 2019- nCoV is yet to be found, different forms of the same virus have been seen in animals like camels, cats, and bats.


Among humans, these infections occur during winters or early spring.


What Are the Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus?




Signs and symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus will usually show themselves two to four days after contracting the infection. Watch out for common cold and flu-like symptoms such as:


  1. Fever
  2. Cough
  3. Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
  4. Pneumonia
  5. Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  6. Kidney failure


What Precautions Should You Take?




The virus was first reported in China, a hub for international and domestic travel. So if you or anyone you know has been travelling to the infected regions, ensure you:


  1. Avoid being in close contact with anyone suffering from acute respiratory infections. Wear a mask at all times.
  2. Maintain hygiene and wash hands often, especially when travelling or if in close proximity with an infected person.
  3. If you have any respiratory infections, ensure you maintain cough etiquettes and cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. Use disposable tissues.
  4. Avoid contact or visits to live animal markets, keep a sanitiser with you at all times.
  5. Don’t consume raw or undercooked animal products or touch raw meats or milk.


Given the rise in the number of cases of the Novel Coronavirus outside China, India has stepped up vigil and laid down guidelines for people travelling to and from China or Hong Kong.

The Civil Aviation Ministry of India has issued directives to conduct thermal screenings of passengers at all major airports like Bengaluru, Calcutta, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Cochin. All airline staff have been instructed to escort passengers to health counters before proceeding for immigration.


“If the ill passenger or crew member is confirmed as a probable case of Wuhan Corona Virus, public health authorities should be notified about the contacts using the Passenger Locator Form,” - Civil Aviation Ministry, India


Until further research and understanding of the current situation, as responsible citizens, we must take precautions. However, if any symptoms are observed, seek medical attention at your nearest health facility. 



  • There has been a Novel Coronavirus ( 2019 - nCoV) outbreak in China, with extended cases in different parts of the globe.

  • This Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus and can result in flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough. 

  • Medical experts are still unclear about the source of this deadly virus but believe that it can be transmitted from human to human as well.

  • Until then, the WHO has advised precautionary steps like washing hands thoroughly, avoiding unnecessary travel plans, especially to and from the affected areas, and avoiding contact or consumption of raw/undercooked meats.
Medanta Medical Team
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