A Viral Vocabulary

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The pandemic caused by the invisible Coronavirus has started dictating a new value system as part of its etiquettes regime. In order to understand the new social order, Ikhlaq Qadri attempted creating the vocabulary associated with the virus that has killed nearly 50 thousand people, so far

A cartoonist’s explanation of the wrong priorities of the policymakers that leads to more spending on defence than on health.

It must be one of the rarest phenomena in recent days when a virus emerged the most talked about creation on earth. Trillions of dollars have already been invested in researching its different aspects as the contagion has forced the world on its knees with economies shattered everywhere. The virus, at the same time, has emerged great leveller as people in the most developed world face the same challenges as the poorest parts of the earth.

Demands for face-masks are as good in New York as in Nowhatta. Every country is seeking personal protection equipment (PPE) for its doctors to the extent that Tel Aviv used its spy agency Mossad to manage part of the supplies. Every hospital has just two demands – additional beds and more ventilators.

The virus has started creating its own dictionary. Here are some of the words that everybody must know in understanding the Coronavirus better:

Wuhan: It is the official birthplace of the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 whose infection leads to a new disease called Covid-19. Wuhan is the capital city of Hubei, a province in China. It is the largest city in Hubei and most populous as well in Central China with a population of over 11 million. It is a manufacturing hub with a focus on automobile manufacturing. Al the virus’s names were given to it by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Coronavirus: It is a family of viruses that got its name from its appearance. It refers to any of the various RNA-containing spherical viruses of the family Coronaviridae, including several that cause acute respiratory illnesses. This belongs to the zoonotic viruses which jump from animals to human beings. All these viruses falling in this category are Types of coronavirus are SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. COVID-19 is popularly referred to as (the) coronavirus or corona for short. Covid-19 is referred to as the novel coronavirus because it is a new (novel) virus (i.e., it hasn’t been detected before). Novel coronavirus can be abbreviated as nCoV. When looked at under a microscope, coronaviruses appear to be surrounded by a spiky array thought to look like a corona, or a crown-like shape, hence the name coronavirus. The technical name of the virus that causes Covid-19 is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, abbreviated as SARS-CoV-2.

Two professions are caught – doctors to prevent the virus spread and the cops to stop people from coming out.

Covid-19: First Identified in December 2019 with its origin from China’s Wuhan, Covid-19 is a highly infectious respiratory disease caused by a new Coronavirus that has spread around the world. A mild to severe respiratory illness, the condition is characterized mainly by fever, cough, and shortness of breath and may progress to pneumonia and respiratory failure. The disease has got the name from a combination of two distinct words, CoronaVirus & Disease. The number 19 refers to the fact that the disease was first detected in 2019.

Virus: Usually termed to be something “on the edge of the life” and something “in-between chemistry and biology”, the viruses can be dormant for a long time and get back to “life” once they get a host. It is an infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts, mainly bacteria, plants, and animals. Viruses are composed of an RNA or DNA core, a protein coat, and, in more complex types, a surrounding envelope. They are ultramicroscopic, 20 to 300 nanometers (nm) in length. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Viruses are also metabolically inert, which is why they only can replicate themselves in cells of living hosts. Covid-19 spreads through droplets from the mouth and nose of a person with a viral infection after coughing, sneezing, exhaling, talking, etc.

Viral Load: It is the amount of a virus in a sample, especially a person’s blood or other bodily fluids. Viral load is typically measured as the number of virus particles per millilitre. The term viral load is especially used in reference to the amount of HIV in a person’s blood. HIV is also the outcome of a zoonotic virus. The higher the viral load in droplets that one exhales, the maximum chances are that he is going to be sick.

Symptom: It is a phenomenon that arises from and accompanies a particular disease or disorder and serves as an indication of it. Major symptoms, in case of Covid-19, include fever, dry cough, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. There are instances in which the infection patient has sore eyes or a digestion issue.

Communicable: It means capable of being easily communicated, spread or transmitted. Covid-19 is a communicable disease.

Screening: It is examining a person to see if they have a disease. This frequently involves taking their temperature, asking about symptoms, and asking about potential exposures to infected people. World over the screening is taking a temperature using a thermal thermometer.

The simplest message to convey why any sort of proximity with strangers could lead to sickness.

Social Distancing: With the scare of Coronavirus around, social distancing, a practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people, is a new trend in vogue. Insisted by the authorities to adopt the practice in preventing the spread of the disease, social distancing has been in use since the early nineteenth century. However, in contemporary use, the term is often used with the meaning of the avoidance of close contact with other people during the outbreak of a contagious disease to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection. The measures often entail cancelling gatherings and it is recommended to maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between people.

Fomite: A source of contamination, possible surfaces, and objects. It is an object (such as a dish, bannister, door-knob) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission. Health workers are increasingly suggesting cleaning of these things as often as possible. The virus can survive as a potent danger on a steel surface for much longer than on cardboard.

Outbreak: It is a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease that is usually confined to one area or group of people. When a lot of people get infected and start showing the symptoms, it is usually being referred to as the spike.

 Epidemic:  An epidemic is an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time. However, it is a temporary prevalence of a disease in a locality where that disease is not permanently prevalent.

When a disease starts spreading into the world, it is pandemic

Pandemic: A pandemic is an epidemic that has become a worldwide phenomenon. It is an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population. An outbreak may become an epidemic if it spreads enough, as an epidemic may likewise become a pandemic. WHO specifically uses pandemic to refer to new diseases people do not have immunity for and that has spread worldwide. The WHO has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

Epidemiology: It is the branch of medicine dealing with the incidence and prevalence of the disease in large populations and with the detection of the source and cause of epidemics of infectious disease. An epidemiologist is a person who studies or is an expert in epidemiology.

Exponential: When a disease, such as Covid-19, spreads exponentially, that generally means the number of cases of infection increase steadily but rapidly. Without containment, such exponential spread results in a large number of infections even when an area has a small number of cases, to begin with.

Everywhere in the world, the rulers are in a tight spot as people have started asking – what have you been doing for all these years.

Flatten the curve: This word generates hope. It means slowing the spread of an epidemic disease so that the capacity of the healthcare system doesn’t become overwhelmed. The curve represents the number of cases over time, and flattening that curve means preventing a huge surge of new cases in a very short period.

Community Spread: It is the extent of a contagious disease within a community, where the source of infection is unknown. It also has the specific meaning of the spread of a contagious disease to individuals in a particular geographic location who have no known contact with other infected individuals or who have not recently travelled to an area where the disease has any documented cases.

Contact Tracing:  It is the practice of identifying and monitoring individuals who may have had contact with an infectious person as a means of controlling the spread of a communicable disease. Such people, known as contacts and isolating them, if they become infected, helps slow the spread of the disease. Law requires that all the cases be reported to the public health department, however, as a part of the protocol, all information is kept in strictest confidence.

Patient Zero: Patient zero refers to the person who is identified as the first person infected with a communicable disease during an outbreak. In the case of Kashmir, the first case identified was that of a lady in Srinagar’s Khanyar.

Quarantine: A term that has gone viral these days. Strict isolation, it means a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods designed to prevent the spread of disease. Having its origin to Latin word quadraginta, meaning “forty”, which was a practice permitted by law for a widow to remain in her deceased husband’s principal home without having to pay rent to his heirs.

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Self-Quarantine: A voluntary quarantine, this is the practice to refrain from any contact with other individuals for some time, as advised by the professionals during the outbreak of a contagious disease. Usually done by remaining in one’s home, the person in self-quarantine also limits contact with family members. It is also being called the home quarantine.

Super-Spreader: This term is used for an individual infected with a pathogen, highly contagious and capable of transmitting a communicable disease to an unusually large number of uninfected individuals. The term for the spread of disease by super-spreaders is super-spreading.

Isolation: It is the complete separation from others of a person suffering from contagious or infectious disease. In public health, isolation happens when a person is infected with a communicable disease and is separated from healthy people. This helps stop the spread of disease. This word is derived from the Latin word insula, meaning “island.” The literal etymological meaning of the word isolated is islanded as the first hospitals built in Italy to protect the general population from the sick in the fourteenth century were located on an island.

Mitigation: Disease mitigation is measures taken to slow the spread of infection. Quarantine, isolation, and social distancing are forms of mitigation. Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is one important thing to do to help prevent the spread, or mitigate, Covid-19

Furlough: A furlough is a usually temporary layoff from work. During the coronavirus outbreak, many workers were furloughed as businesses conducting non-essential activities were closed. This was done to prevent the spread of the disease by banning large gatherings as a form of social distancing.

Immunity: It is the state of being immune from (“protected from a disease”) or insusceptible to a particular disease; the condition that permits either natural or acquired resistance to disease. Humans don’t currently have immunity to Covid-19.

Herd Immunity: Herd immunity is the immunity or resistance to a particular infection that occurs in a group of people or animals when a very high percentage of individuals have been vaccinated or previously exposed to the infection.

Immuno-compromised: It means having an impaired or compromised immune response; also referred to as immune-compromised or immune-deficient.

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Incubation Period: The length of time between when an infection begins and when there are apparent signs of the disease. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is operating under the assumption that Covid-19 has a two to the 14-day incubation period, based on what officials have seen with other coronaviruses. But there are instances in which people started showing signs of disease even after three fortnights.

Contagious: Contagious is transmissible by direct or indirect contact with an infected person. Anything contagious is automatically also infectious, but the reverse is not true.

Infectious: Infectious is producing or capable of producing infection and containing pathogenic agents that may be transmitted. For example, an ailment such as food poisoning is infectious, it is capable of producing infection, but it is not contagious. However, the Coronavirus is both contagious and infectious.

Ventilator: It is a machine that helps a patient to breathe. It pumps oxygen into the lungs and removes carbon dioxide through a tube. In medicine, ventilate can refer to oxygenating the blood (i.e., supplying it with oxygen) or helping someone breathe using a mechanical ventilator. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, it can cause lung inflammation, which makes it hard for patients to breathe. That’s why ventilators are necessary to help treat some patients with the infection, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Deconstructing SARS-CoV-2

Respirator: A masklike protective device, usually of gauze, worn over the mouth (or nose and mouth) to prevent the inhalation of noxious substances or the like. This helps to filter out virus particles during breathing.

Asymptomatic: It means showing no evidence of disease.

Morbidity Rate: It is a measure of how many people have an illness relative to the population.

Mortality Rate: It is a measure of how many people have died because of an illness, also relative to the population or the morbidity that a particular disease created.

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