Coronavirus – the origin

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, March 12, 2020

It was New Year’s Eve 2019 when health officials in China realised that a problem was brewing. A growing number of people were developing a rapid cough and fever before getting pneumonia.

A novel (new) coronavirus initially labelled SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) was subsequently identified from patient samples.

COVID-19-GraphicDoctors named the disease Coronavirus 19, or COVID-19 indicating that a type of virus is causing the illness.

The source of the outbreak is yet to be determined. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, preliminary investigations identified environmental samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan City, however, some patients did not report visiting this market.

When scientists tried to trace its origin, they found its likely source at the Huanan wet market in Wuhan China. Of the first 47 patients, 21 had visited the location.

The market has since been closed because similar outbreaks – SARS in 2002 and MERS 201 – have also originated in market places.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) publicly characterised the COVID-19 as a pandemic. A pandemic is a disease epidemic that can spread across a large region; for instance, multiple continents or worldwide.

As of 12 March 2020, over 125,000 cases were diagnosed in 125 countries and areas (including mainland China), with a total of over 4,500 fatalities.

Of this total, over 44,000 cases and more than 1,400 deaths have been reported from countries outside mainland China. Within China, 84 percent of cases reported to date are in Hubei Province.

Guyana recorded its first case on March 11, 2020.

The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a media briefing said “We are not at the mercy of this virus. All countries must aim to stop transmission and prevent the spread of COVID-19, whether they face no cases, sporadic cases, clusters or community transmission.”