Within the span of a few days, it seems as though the world has been put on hold. All activities, programs and gatherings have come to a standstill. Across the globe, shops and public places have been deserted and many infected towns have taken on an eerie feel of a ghost town. COVID-19 has hit us with a force we could not have fathomed and the consequences are felt direly in different parts of the world. As lists of Dos and Don’ts are circulated fervently through social media and other platforms, let’s take a step back and look at the evolution and spread of the much-feared ‘Corona Virus’.

We have faced the predecessors of the novel coronavirus in the previous decades. The first one was the SARS-CoV, a severe condition of pneumonia that was discovered in 2003. Later on, there emerged the MERS-CoV prevalent in the Middle East. Both were controlled but with significant deaths. Initially originated in animals, these viruses propagate on to humans. While the origins of COVID-19 are met with much speculation and debate, its discovery and exponential spread in China has put in the country in a questionable position.

In the past week, a new country has come to the top of the headlines. Italy has seen a fatality rate of 5% as opposed to the global average of 3.4%, according to WHO. Higher fatality rates are attributed largely due to the reason that its population comprises of mostly people beyond the age of 47. Majority of the deaths reported were individuals between the age of 80s and 90s. This combined with the concentration of infected people in the same locality causes a medical nightmare.

How worried should we be? While getting infected is a possibility if precautionary measures are not taken, the chances of death are considerably low if our immune system is strong enough. The deaths around the world have largely been associated with individuals in their old age susceptible to diabetes, hypertension and other diseases. Common precautions such as staying away from people with signs of any sickness, washing your hands before touching your face or eating food and staying hydrated can go a long way in the fight against this disease.

At the turn of a new decade, yet again we are faced with a new virus that threatens to overpower us. While this too shall pass and become the story of another pandemic, let us not forget the lessons these viruses have left in their wake. Faced with a sudden attack by nature, we humans have been left at the mercy of these new inhabitants. It is during times like these that we realize we might not be as invincible as we hoped. However, nature does not present problems without solutions, therefore, it probably won’t be long before we are prepared to fight this novel virus.

Anna Susan Cherian