Novel Coronavirus: A Biological bombshell

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by Sonia Goel and Jasina Arora
SGT University, Gurugram, Haryana

In the verge of New Year celebrations of 2020 a news spread like biological bombshell in the medical college of China about the attack of Corona virus. It was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and spreading from person-to-person in different parts of that country initially. World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a global emergence threat as the virus is affecting different parts of the world. Coronavirus was first isolated in 1937 from an infectious bronchitis virus in birds that has the ability to seriously devastate poultry stocks, infect mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkey, horses, pigs, and cattle. After that in 2003 it has appeared in Humans, as Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and named as (SARS-CoV), in 2012 it was again found in Saudi Arabia and some other countries as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and named as MERS-CoV. It was discovered in 1960s with some cases of infectious bronchitis in chicken and in human patients.

The crown structure of this deadly virus gives its name as Coronavirus. It has viral spikes on the surface of its coat called peplomers which determine host specificity. It is the largest RNA virus with nucleocapsid of helical shape. Coronavirus attack the respiratory tract of mammals and cause common cold, pneumonia and gut infection. Most recently, the variety of Coronavirus detected recently in China is identified as novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The story of this deadly virus started recently when some vendors from seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China were detected with the infection of this novel virus. After that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) dispatched a rapid response team to the affected area to conduct an epidemiologic and etiologic investigation. The transmission of novel Coronavirus occur from person to person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or through animals. These infected droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby to the affected person and can be inhaled into the lungs. CDC declared that the symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. Initially most cases were found in people who had been in Wuhan, China, their family members and medical workers but now the spread is getting global infecting majorly all the countries of the world. The detection of the virus can be done by molecular biology lab techniques like PCR (Polymerase chain reaction). RT-PCR technique is used to diagnose the infection by collecting upper and lower respiratory specimens from infected persons.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent novel Coronavirus infection though the researchers are doing best effort to make the antidote. The available information about the genome structure of this virus is available at USA database which will surely help in developing some target vaccines for novel Coronavirus. The best way to prevent the infection of this virus is to avoid being exposed to this virus or the infected person. CDC recommended everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of this respiratory viruses, which includes:
– Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that  contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
– Keep immunity strong because Coronavirus easily attack on low immunity person.
– Avoid close contact with people who are sick or infected with this virus.
– Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

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