A pandemic of this magnitude takes a “huge level of health worker commitment”.
Dr. Michael J. Ryan
2020 will always be remembered for the drastic impact THE COVID 19 pandemic has caused to almost every facet of the world. To comprehend the enormity of this PANDEMIC there are certain issues that needs to be put in perspective in absolute layman terms to enable a clear understanding and a more responsive compliance from the population at large, which in itself is a very tall order for a country like India, given the density, poverty and literacy of this huge ocean of mankind that resides within.
The virus is basically called CORONA because of its shape and appearance which is similar to the CORONA of the SUN along with its Rays. The virus was first detected in WUHAN district of China in DECEMBER 2019. The virus was not officially designated the location name as it tends to give rise to a social stigma to anything associated with that location. Since it came to light in Dec 2019, it was named CORONA VIRUS DEC or COVID 19. Before we get into the details of this virus and the PANDEMIC a brief understanding of the terminology associated with it is very much essential.
PANDEMIC & ITS STAGES
A typical Pandemic goes through the following stages in consonance with the WHO parameters on the subject.
- An onset of an illness with a sudden surge in the number of people effected especially in certain localized areas can be termed as an outbreak
- EPIDEMIC. The outbreak stage is considered to become an EPIDEMIC when the surge in the number of affected persons continues unabated in an exceptionally short time frame unexpectedly.
- PANDEMIC. When the disease outbreak transcends countries and continentto affect an extremely large cross section of the planet it is termed as a PANDEMIC. The quantum of affected persons and the fatalities are extremely high far beyond that which occurs in the EPIDEMIC stage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic in JANUARY 2020 when they assessed the severity of the situation.
The various stages through which a PANDEMIC transits are:-
Stage 1 The spread of the disease is more through transmission by transient population who have travelled from various affected areas. Local or proximity spreading is not significant.
Stage 2 In the LOCAL TRANSMISSION stage the same transients who are carriers of the virus invariable transmit to their immediate affected circle. Identifying and quarantining such cases along with large scale testing and contact tracing has proven to be an effective solution to arrest the spread.-
Stage 3 This stage is more pronounced by the fact that even contact tracing becomes ineffective and it impossible to pin point the source of the spread, especially when the new cases are patients who have no travel history and have no contact with effected persomsWhen the source of the infection is untraceable; this stage is considered to be attained when by people who haven’t had travel history get affected by the virus. Here onwards the spread is extremely contagious and the spread is rapid.
Stage 4 When the spread is affecting very large population with no method of controlling or arresting the disease is considered to be STAGE IV of the PANDEMIC.
The COVID‑19 pandemic, is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic on 11 March. By the first week of August 2020, more than two crore cases of COVID‑19 have been reported in countries and territories across the GLOBE with more than half a million fatalities. Interestingly, more than half the affected persons have recovered and INDIA has by far the least percentage of deaths due to this disease.
The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances. However, the transmission may also occur through smaller droplets that are able to stay suspended in the air for longer periods of time in enclosed spaces, as typical for airborne diseases. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms.
Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of sense of smell. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days but may range from two to fourteen days. There is no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment. Primary treatment is symptomatic and supportive therapy.
Recommended preventive measures include
(a) Regular hand washing.
(b) Covering one’s mouth when coughing,
(c) Social Distancing.
(d) Wearing a face mask in public settings.
(e) Disinfecting surfaces.
Authorities worldwide have responded by implementing travel restrictions, lockdowns, workplace hazard controls, and facility closures in order to slow the spread of the disease. Many places have also worked to increase testing capacity and trace contacts of infected persons.
Economic & Social Impact
The pandemic has caused global social and economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression. Global stock markets fell on due to a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases outside China. Some of the worst hit industries are Aviation, Hospitality and Tourism which thrives on movement and travel. Perhaps for the first time the OIL sector was facing a crisis of a different kind when the futures tanked and no agency was ready to lift the oil due to insignificant consumption. Oil futures had traded in negative and companies were reeling under the negative cash flow. COVID-19 pandemic will likely go down in history as the costliest disaster ever in human history.
The life styles and way of living has undergone a drastic shift with cancellation of sporting, religious, political, and cultural events.
The entire academic pursuit has forced the education departments the world over to innovate teaching and assessing methods to ensure continuity and sustainence of the staff. Online classes have now become the new normal and it is likely to become an integral part of all learning processes. This is not without its accompanying problems of failing eyesights due to larger ON SCREEN time by students especially the middle and primary children.
Xenophobia and racism
The outbreak has largely been attributed to have originated from China and this has raised concerns by most of the countries around the world. USA, Japan and other nations are threatening to pull out their investments and business interests from China which is slowly and steadily getting marginalized.
The quest for A COVID‑19 vaccine is on by a number of companies around the world. The trials are said to be in an advanced stage and are on the threshold of being tried on human beings. Till then Plasma therapy has been quite successful in mitigating certain very acute cases and are being adapted by Governments as an interim measure.
The Indian Saga
The first case of COVID-19 in India originated from China and was reported on 30 January 2020. As of August 2020, India had the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia, and has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States and Brazil with the number of total confirmed cases breaching the 1.7 million mark by the beginning of August.
India’s case fatality rate is one of the lowest 2.15%, against the global 4.7%. Six cities account for around half of all reported cases in the country – Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata.
India ordered a nationwide lockdown for the entire population starting 24 March, with progressive unlock phases starting 1 June, 1 July and UNLOCK 3.0 on 01 AUGUST.