Coronavirus is often seen as an epidemic that causes mild to moderate disease in immune-competent individuals. In normal conditions, it causes mild respiratory tract infection but immune-compromised patients and with people with co-morbidities (like HTN, DM) it can turn out to be a killer. Novel coronavirus or Wuhan coronavirus or nCoV started from Wuhan china. The sequence of the virus match virus found in Bats so it is thought to have started from a bat-human contact. The incubation period is 2-14 days.
Other coronaviruses like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) caused more severe disease but one thing that makes this virus nCoV dangerous is the human to human transmission. The virus that caused an epidemic like SARS and MERS were transmitted only by zoonosis. The other reason this virus is thought dangerous is that it is transmitted in the incubation period. Small research showed that the infection which was transmitted during the incubation period was not as severe as the infection transmitted after clinical sign and symptom had appeared.
Normally nCoV infections are caused by droplets infections and direct contact. World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned rumors citing that the virus can be transmitted by air. This virus can live on the normal surface for 24 hours and on a carpeted surface for about 6 weeks. So if a person touches the contaminated surface in a departmental store and then touches his face, there are chances that he may get infected. Research has shown that an individual touches his face 2500-3500 times/day consciously or unconsciously. Most of the people are wearing a Mask but not wearing disposable-gloves, therefore, it may be the reason that infection is spreading. Some articles of BBC has shown that it is necessary to cover ears and eyes to minimize the chance of infection.
For most of people, the infection is not serious but in about 20 percent the infection is critical. The primary symptom the patient presents include fever, cough, dyspnea and bilateral chest infection. Clusters of pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock and organ failure is seen in very severely ill patient.
Most of the countries like USA, India, Bangladesh, and the UK except Pakistan have evacuated their citizens. Nepal promised to evacuate 180 medical student/PG students/Ph.D. students on 1st February 2020 but still, they have not evacuated these students. Nepal government is saying that they are yet unable to fix a place of quarantine to these students.
Some politicians are objecting to the evacuation citing that people living in this area will be put at risk if these students from Hubei province come to Nepal and stay in their area.
My polite answer to these politicians is that firstly, as this virus doesn’t spread by air and so they are safe. Secondly, it is unlikely that any of the students are infected because the city has been locked down for the last 15 days and students are living in self-quarantine. Therefore, my position on this point is no students gone for their and nation’s benefit should be sacrificed for petty political benefits.
I have seen some articles written by doctors and saying that nCoV cannot be treated in Nepal. I want to say that there is no treatment for any viral disease, only symptomatic management can be done. Patients recover when the immune system clears the virus.
A doctor wrote in online news portals that patients can be treated in china better than Nepal.
Firstly, as mentioned above the chances are very low that any student is infected. Secondly, the students will be tested for nCoV in China, and those who tested positive will not be allowed to leave China and by chance, if any infected person reaches Nepal, the government has already made isolated wards in some hospitals of Nepal.
The same doctor also mentioned in an online news site that everything will be ok in 7 days. I think this should be left to an astrologer rather than a doctor. He also said that everyone in the plane will be infected, I want to reiterate“Dear doctor, this infection is not transmitted by air, it is transmitted by droplet infection or direct contact.”
In this case as well, first, there will be screening in china, if anyone is infected or is showing symptoms they will be stopped at china airport. All the students will wear a mask and gloves which will significantly reduce the chance of transmission. Are these country idiots who evacuated their citizens?
Lastly, I want to request our umbrella organization Nepal Medical Association that 180 doctors and students are trapped and all you care is about your personal gain from the election. It is your duty to create awareness among the population and tell them about the reality of this infection .180 doctors are at risk of getting infected and it seems NMA doesn’t care. Please Wake up NMA before it’s too late and help in the evacuation.
My request to the politicians, journalists, fellow doctors and people of Nepal is that the students are not infected therefore please bring them back before they get infected. Please leave aside your politics and remember that they are the same people who worked selflessly when the country needed them during the earthquake. Yes, they are the same doctor who left their family to rescue you and treated you during the ongoing earthquake.
Isn’t it inhuman and irrational that these days also, the ‘highly educated intellects’ are not allowing panicked students pleading for letting them come back to Nepal are not rescued because of some rumors that this disease is spread by air?
(The writer is a student currently studying medicine in Hubei University of Medicine, Shiyan, Hubei, China)