The Coronavirus disease known by its scientific name COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has taken the world by storm. It is a very infectious disease that is the cause of an ongoing pandemic only declared so by WHO on the 11th of March 2020.
It was first discovered in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province in November of 2019. It is hypothesized that it made a species jump from a bat to a reservoir host such as a pangolin before it was introduced to humans in the crowded wet markets in Wuhan where wild animals are traded.
People infected with the novel coronavirus may experience a runny nose, sore throat, dry cough, high fever, headache and difficulty in breathing. The chance of serious illness from coronavirus is low among younger people and it goes up with age. The mortality rate of the virus is at an estimate of 3 to 4%. These are the worst affected countries, by death rate.
The USA was among the first countries to restrict flights from China when the disease broke out. This, however, did not work to prevent the cases in the country. The majority of infections were probably carried in by other infected travelers from Europe who showed no symptoms of the disease.
The first case was confirmed on the 21st of January and the number is 470,150 as of 9th of April with a total of 16,722 deaths and 25,972 recoveries. The White House through President Trump relayed that it would take about 4 to 5 months to contain the spread of the disease and flatten the transmission curve. This falls way into July or August this year.
Efforts to limit transmission are being advised through social distancing. The government and local authorities urge people to stay home and limit their movements to only necessary travel. All the while, small businesses and the stock markets continue to bear the brunt.
The situation in Switzerland is particularly dire because of the effect coronavirus has had on the tourism industry. Most countries around it are on total or partial lockdown and the country’s tourism revenue has nose-dived in the last couple of days. All its major cities have had confirmed cases and the numbers are rising rapidly. As of today, 24,427 cases in the country have led to 987 deaths and 10,600 recoveries.
Belgium is among the European countries with a well-resourced health care system. It has 26,667 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 3,019 have died despite the specialized care and life support available in the intensive care units. With 5,568 people already recovered, it has one of the least worrying deaths to recoveries ratio among the European nations.
The good news is that new hospitalizations continue to decrease each day signaling that the efforts to reduce transmissions are paying off. There are probably more people infected in the country than currently recorded and a rise in confirmed cases is attributed to robust testing.
Japan announced its first coronavirus case on the 16th of January 2020. The patient was a Chinese national who had traveled into the country and fell sick shortly afterward. By 27 February, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had ordered the closure of all elementary, junior high and high schools until April as a response to contain the spread of the virus.
The outbreak has led to a one-year postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics that was to be held in Japan. To this moment Japan has recorded 5,530 cases and 99 deaths.
China, the ground zero of the epidemic is understandably the worst affected country. It has the highest number of confirmed cases amounting to 81,907 and 3,336 total deaths.
The number of deaths in China was very high at the beginning of the outbreak but it swiftly came down due to the tough measures put in place by the Chinese government. Institutions of learning and factories were quickly shut down and quarantine zones were established around homes and neighborhoods. Essentials such as food and medicine is delivered to homes daily to prevent crowding in grocery shops. Chinese citizens use mobile apps to find out where new infections are being realized so that they could avoid potentially biohazard regions.
While China accounted for about 74% of global cases as of 9th March, the figure has dropped to just 20% as the epicenter of the pandemic shifts to Europe. The whole of China continues to report a decreased rate in the number of deaths and is set to gradually lift the countrywide lockdown in April.
France just as Switzerland has had its tourism industry greatly dented by the coronavirus pandemic. There are currently very limited flights in and out of the country.
It is the fourth most affected nation in Europe with about 117,749 confirmed cases and 12,210 recorded deaths. To curtail the spread of the virus, the French government banned public gatherings and ordered shut down of major museums, landmarks and tourist destinations in all major cities across the country.
The French capital city of Paris remains a ghost town as people keep to their houses until the authorities deem it safe enough for the citizens to go back to their normal daily routines.
The UK is the tenth country with the highest number of coronavirus confirmed cases in the world. It has so far recorded 65,077 cases with a resulting 7,978 deaths. The numbers quickly peaked in March and new cases are being recorded daily. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales tested positive and is self-isolating in Scotland.
On Monday 23rd March the UK Prime Minister announced a lockdown on the country by issuing stay-at-home orders and the close of all non-essential businesses and services.
People are however allowed to shop for basic commodities. Among the places that will remain closed are shops, worship centers, and gyms. Social events including wedding and funerals will be postponed, gatherings will be scattered and people breaking the set rules will be fined and may even face time in jail. The government has made it clear that these efforts are geared at stopping the spread of the virus.
Spain has recorded the fourth-highest number of coronavirus confirmed cases in the world and the second in Europe. The figure currently stands at 157,022 with total deaths at 15,843. With the lockdown currently in place, the tourism sector is likely to suffer great losses due to the reduced number of visitors into the country. Employees have been asked to work from home to avoid the spread of the virus.
Iran was among the first countries where coronavirus quickly spread to. This is partly due to the huge trade network it shares with China. As of today, it has over 68, 192 confirmed cases and 4,232 total deaths. The number of deaths is approximately 10% of the number of confirmed cases while the disease’s fatality rate is less than 4%.
This mishap reveals that Iran may be under-reporting the cases in the country. Many government officials including the Iran health minister have contracted the disease and the situation remains uncertain in the Middle Eastern country.
Italy is the most affected country in Europe and is the country with the highest number of deaths in the world. It has recorded 143,626 confirmed cases and 18,279 deaths. The high casualty in the country is attributed to the degree of travel by Italians to other countries during the early period of the outbreak. Italy also has the second-largest oldest population in the world who are particularly vulnerable to the disease. The country recorded the highest single-day death toll of 743 on the 23rd of March 2020, a very devastating figure.
Educational institutions, tour destinations and major points of convergence remain deserted as people observe social distancing to avoid further spread of the virus. The hospitals are filled to capacity and health workers are laboring around the clock to prevent more deaths. Hopefully, the number of fatalities being recorded daily will fall and the transmission will grind to zero. Until then the country remains on lockdown.