UPSC Current Affairs Topic: Coronavirus Frontiers IAS Current Affairs
Baljit Dhaka
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UPSC Current Affairs Topic: Coronavirus Frontiers IAS Current Affairs

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UPSC Current  Affairs Topic: Coronavirus Frontiers IAS Current Affairs

What are coronaviruses?

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that are transmitted between animals and people i.e. they are zoonotic.
  • Illnesses caused by them range from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

From where do they derive their name?

  • They derive their name from Latin corona, meaning crown or halo.
  • It is because their electron microscope image resembles a royal crown or the corona of the sun.


Illustration of a 2019-nCoV virion (source: Wikipedia)

What is this latest scare about?

  • Recently a new strand of coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province after the outbreak was reported in December 2019.
  • This new, or “novel” coronavirus, has provisionally been named 2019-Nov and existing treatments are ineffective against it.

How is it spreading?

  • An animal source from a live animal market in China was likely responsible for some of the first reported human infections.
  • That source is yet to be identified.
  • Now it seems to be spreading from person-to-person.

How dangerous is the current virus?

  • Hong Kong-based Professor Malik Peiris, who helped in identifying SARS in 2003, called it more transmissible but milder than SARS, but more severe than the 2009 H1N1 flu. Currently, its mortality rate is just over 2%.
  • In contrast, the mortality rates of SARS and MERS were 9.5% and 34.5% respectively.

How far has the disease spread?

  • As of February 03, 2020, a total of 17390 reported cases worldwide, 17205 are from China. Also, 361 of 362 deaths occurred in China (link for real-time tracking).
  • The only death outside mainland China took place in the Philippines on February 1.
  • It has affected 27 territories worldwide to date.

What are the symptoms?

  • For confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
  • Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath. CDC believes symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.

How can it be diagnosed?

  • CDC has developed a real-time Reverse transcription-polymerase Chain Reaction (RRT-PCR) test that can diagnose 2019-nCoV in respiratory and serum samples from clinical specimens.
  • The test can be done on respiratory or blood samples. Results are generally available within a few hours to days.

How can it be cured?

  • Since it is a viral infection and not a bacterial one, antibiotics are not effective in preventing or treating it.
  • Also, as the strand is new, no current vaccine is known to provide immunity against it.
  • WHO has recommended no medicine to date.

What precautions should be taken for its prevention?

  • Practice good respiratory hygiene, as this virus spreads primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when a person, coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.
  • Avoid contact with the infected person as much as possible.

How has the WHO reacted to the current situation?

  • WHO considers it an extraordinary event which causes public health threat internationally and has declared the current outbreak as Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
  • A global health emergency was first declared in 2009 during the time of H1N1 flu.

What has WHO advised to all countries?

  • The WHO has asked all countries to be prepared for containment, active surveillance, early detection, isolation, and tracing of contacts of infected people.
  • It has also asked countries to share full data with WHO (which they are legally required to do under IHR).

Has WHO issued any advisory?

How severe is the outbreak in India?

  • As of February 3, 2020, India has reported three positive cases of 2019-now.
  • The first confirmed case of Coronavirus was reported from Kerala on January 30, when a student studying at Wuhan University, returned to Kerala.

What measures has the Government of India taken?

Has the Government of India imposed any travel restrictions?

  • According to the Ministry of External Affairs, travel to India on E-visas has been temporarily suspended with immediate effect.
  • This suspension applies to holders of a Chinese passport and people of other nationalities residing in China.