By Syed Shamsuddin
First besetting Wuhan City of Hubei province in China, CoVID-19 has, with time, swept across all the continents of the world save for Antarctica. It is said to be a zoonotic disease, which means it spreads from animals to human beings. However, more credence is said to be lent by scientists/epidemiologists to the view that its outbreak was more likely from wild animals like bats, and Pangolin. Be it as it may, the disease has by the time horrifically assumed pandemic proportions for having affected South Asia then descending on Iran. In its aftermath, a large number of people contracting the pandemic, traveled from and entered into Pakistan from these countries which became the fundamental cause of and instrumental in its outbreak in Pakistan. It is noteworthy that China battled against the disease so valiantly and successfully that they have, by the time, not only been able to stem the tide of the pandemic there but are very well poised to offer humanitarian assistance to the affected countries abroad.
By the time, the pandemic has reportedly spread to countries like Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt whilst it at the same time, affected almost all European countries –Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Germany and UK with the first named being under complete lockdown. The number of countries confronting the situation is now put over 185. The information under reference unfolds what exactly is symptomatic of novel Coronavirus or Covid-19 in contradistinction to various forms of influenza. As has been divulged, it prima facie, appears to be flu characterized by cough and cold, body pain, muscles pain, headache, increased heart-beat or palpitation, short breath, – akin to and ostensibly associated with influenza. The latest research-based fruitful information referred to herein brings out three distinctive symptoms so important to be born in mind by all and sundry include cough, short breath and high fever prominently associated with Cronavirus in contradistinction to influenza. In case of the pandemic, running nose phenomenon is said to be somewhat mild as opposed to flu while there is severity of the other three symptoms.
The intensity of dry cough, high fever and breathing problem when accompanied by pneumonia in case of Cronavirus become the cause of death or mortality of the sufferers or else kidney failure too may lead to fatality. Such an eventuality is caused either by viral pneumonia or because of a bacterial attack called the second infection on the heel of the primary infection compounding the problem. These get reckoned with as the cardinal features of paramount importance to be born in mind. The information further apprises that in all the deaths on account of Coronavirus or Covid-19 so far, elderly people aged id est 60,65 or above were the worst hit by the pandemic whether be it the case of China or any other country. It says younger people too are not immune from it but nevertheless, the elderly population is the worst affected.
How does the pandemic spread?
As per the crucial information under reference, what is of paramount importance to be born in mind is that the spread of the pandemic fundamentally becomes ascribable to two ways: (1) Transmission occurs from person-to-person. For instance, a person suffering from Coronavirus or flu sneezes or coughs, its droplets or aerosols fall straight on the other person. In the watery point of the droplet, the germ survives and easily gets passed on to the other people.
Nose, eyes and mouth are the receptacle through which it can get into human body. It is however, made clear that the virus does not enter into human body through skin. After entry of virus into body, its incubation period lasts 14 days (ranging between 1-14 days). It can incubate even for 2 or 3 days while doing the same up to 14 days as well. After which the symptoms like flu, cough, headache, fever etc. appear. It is said that it can spread through non-living things as well. For instance, one sitting beside a table sneezes or coughs and the droplets fall the table and someone else somehow touches the same on the table then touches his hand on his own eyes, nose or mouth, the virus will enter into him. In this way people get affected and spread goes on unabated.
The report says in furtherance that this can happen invariably to those aged one year old to 80 years elderly people. But nonetheless, the mortality rate is higher in case of those aged 60, 65 and particularly those above 70. This is because the immune system or the defence system among people of such age groups becomes very weak rendering them more vulnerable. Above 80, it becomes all the more so in which germs or viruses and bacteria easily enter into the human body and harm it. Those already suffering from diabetes, cardiac problems or those smoking cigarettes are all the more vulnerable to infections.
When to get tested?
People who have a travel history purporting to have traveled for instance, from China, Hon Kong, South Korea ,Italy etc. and entered into Pakistan and who have fever, the virus can spread to others who contact them. It is to be remembered that the incubation period is put at 14 days. There is no need of being panicky in the sense that people unnecessarily fearing the Coronovirus, get to hospitals for tests wrongly taking flu for the pandemic disease while tests can be necessary only one having symptoms of the novel Coronavirus alone.
What else to do?
The habit of coughing in elbows is to be developed even in flu cases. Using ordinary masks should get currency. No need of using No9 masks which are exclusive usable by doctors. Use tissue and put it instantly into closed contained, no an open one. This is because in tissue too, germs survive. Use ordinary masks even during ordinary flu. Cough in elbows. Whenever there is cough and cold, use masks. Keep at least one meter’s distance (3 and a half arms length) from other people. People, they say can make cut a clean cloth to small pieces to use instead of tissue if at all there may be dearth of tissue. But nevertheless, tissue or the piece of cloth once used should at once be put into closed container.
It is to be recalled that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, in his recent speech to the nation, encompassed this all and exhorted the nation not to be panicky about the pandemic saying that 97% of those attacked by COVID 19 recover while 90 % include those who have to have a mild complaint of the pandemic. However, about 5% suffering from COVID 19 are those who are elderly and are deficient of a robust immune system, are at risk. The first case in Pakistan, according to him was detected in Pakistan on 26th February. What then becomes imperative under the prevailing circumstances is that the general public especially those of the rural areas, is informed of the uses of the fore-going again and again so that people all across the country are made aware of the measures indispensably required to be taken to contain the fierce pandemic. The measures announced by the GB government in regard ‘lockdown, social distancing and self-isolation’ are to be hailed in that it is the only efficacious means and effective way out of the apocalyptic situation the world is facing today. These have to be enforced in the strictest possible terms to prevent further spread of the fierce pandemic. It is pertinent to refer to a facebook post dated 24.03.2020 from a local journalist in continuation of Xinjiang Administration, China’s response to CM GB’s letter to the Governor of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, Xinjiang which reportedly culminated in the following:
“PL-26/2020 The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, and has the honor to inform that in responding to the letter from Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan to the Governor of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, Xinjiang would like to donate a batch of medical materials to GB. The materials are ready to be delivered to GB through Khunjrab Pass at 99:00am (Pakistan Time) on 27 March 2020. Therefore, it is requested to temporarily open the Pass on 27 March. In this regard, it is also highly recommended that Pakistani side should agree and make due preparation before the date so that all materials could enter into Pakistan smoothly. The list of the material is attached herewith. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the esteemed Ministry the assurance of its highest consideration. Islamabad, 24 March 2020.” As emanating from social media today, the Chinese consignment comprising very vital ‘Coronavirus prevention-related’ medical equipment now stands delivered at Gilgit which, it is hoped, will go a long way in assuaging the current situation facing Gilgit-Baltistan.
LAST BUT NOT least is a very pertinent reference to a video post 27.03.2020 on BBC Urdu releasing a cri de coeur from a Pakistani student Imtiaz Soomro – doing masters at Cecina, Italy – on how the life is currently there and how the Italians now strictly enforce the ‘guidelines’ by keeping the direly needed ‘social distancing’. He appealed to his Pakistani brethren to do the same in order to help overcome the worst situation. This underlines how significant it is to act strictly on the aphorism ‘prevention is better than cure’. But nevertheless, it has to be born in mind that while the lockdown goes on strictly in line with and pursuant to the ‘guidelines’ in order to prevent people coming out of homes and gathering at unhygienic locations, systematic delivery of food/essential items and medicines inevitably has to remain underway that is what the Chinese did so splendidly by delivering them at doorsteps and ultimately became well poised to contain the pandemic. As to the terms ‘social distancing’, one aptly put it recently that this oft-used phraseology be substituted for ‘physical distancing’given the fact that one in the ubiquitous lockdown days, has to keep more and telephonic contacts or that via social media, with his or her dear and near ones.
The writer is a Gilgit-based freelance contributor, blogger. He can be reached at Email: email@example.com