Writer’s Note : Information about the Novel Coronavirus is rapidly changing. As a result, some of the information or advice in this article may be out-of-date. You can find the most current COVID-19 coverage from Times Of India.The rapid spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has sparked alarm worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, and many countries are grappling with a rise in confirmed cases. At this time when every second notification is about an update on Coronavirus, we need to take a deep breath, step back and read up about what’s coronavirus, where did it comes from etc.What is this new coronavirus, and where did it come from?Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that typically attack the respiratory system. The name comes from the Latin word corona, for crown, and the ancient Greek korōnè, meaning garland or wreath, because of the spiky fringe encircling these viruses. Most coronaviruses infect animals, such as bats, cats, and birds. Only seven, including Covid-19, SARS, and MERS, are known to infect humans.SARS are believed to have evolved from bats to cats to infect humans in China; In the Middle East evolved from bats to camels to humans. No one knows exactly where COVID-19 came from, though a major hypothesis is that bats were once again the original source: they spread the virus to another animal species, possibly a pangolin, where it jumped to humans.What are the symptoms and death rate?People can become ill with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, fatigue, and dry cough. Most people (about 80%) have to recover from the disease without the need for special treatment. More rarely, the disease can be severe and even fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill.People may experience :coughfevertirednessdifficulty breathing (severe cases)As of today, in India, the death toll stands at 19, along with 909 confirmed cases (including foreign nationals).Is this cause for concern? Yes.Should we start panicking? No.The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India) and the World Health Organization are repeating one thing that we must do to protect ourselves and our community : Social Distancing .What is social distancing?“Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease-causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community,” according to the advisory that the health ministry of india has issued.Here’s what social distancing actually does ?Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causingpathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease.The following interventions are proposed:1. Closure of all educational establishments (sc1. Closure of all educational establishments (schools, universities etc), gyms, museums,cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres. Students should be advised to stay at home. Online education to be promoted.2. Possibility of postponing exams may be explored. Ongoing exams to be conducted only after ensuring physical distance of one meter amongst students.3. Encourage private sector organizations/employers to allow employees to work fromhome wherever feasible.4. Meetings, as far as feasible, shall be done through video conferences. Minimize or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary.5. Restaurants to ensure handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. Ensure physical distancing (minimum 1metre) between tables; encourage open air seating where practical with adequate distancing.6. Keep already planned weddings to a limited gathering, postpone all non-essential social and cultural gatherings.7. Local authorities to have a dialogue with organizers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings and they may be advised to postpone such events.8. Local authorities to have a dialogue with opinion leaders and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and should ensure no overcrowding/at least 1 metre distance between people.9. Local authorities to have meeting with traders associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, exhibit Do’s and Don’ts and take up a communication drive in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots, railway stations, post-offices etc.,where essential services are provided.10. All commercial activities must keep a distance of one meter between customers. Measures to reduce peak hour crowding in markets.11. Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, Trains and aeroplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces.12. Hospitals to follow necessary protocol related with COVID-19 management as prescribed and restrict family/friends/children visiting patients in hospitals.13. Hygiene and physical distancing has to be maintained. Shaking hands and hugging as a matter of greeting to be avoided.14. Special protective measures for delivery men/ women working in online ordering services.15. Keep communities informed consistently and constantly.Why is this important?Social distancing leads to a decrease in the spread, morbidity, and mortality due to the disease. This prevents community transmission, and makes sure that people who might be vulnerable, with low immunity, don’t catch the disease.How does it spread? Can you possibly catch it?Person-to-person spread :The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 3 feet).Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.Can someone spread the virus without being sick?People are considered most contagious when they are most symptomatic (most sick).Some symptoms may be possible before people show symptoms; There have been reports of this happening with this new coronavirus, but the virus is not believed to be the main method of spreading.Spreads by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects : It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.What can I do to protect myself and others from COVID-19 ?The following actions help prevent the spread of COVID-19 :Avoid close contact with people who are sick.Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Stay home when you are sick.Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the dustbin.Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially when you have been in a public place, or coughing or sneezing after running down your nose.If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.Did I need to wear a facemask ?If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.Is there a vaccine available?No vaccine is available, although scientists will be starting human testing on a vaccine very soon. However, it may be a year or more before we even know if we have a vaccine that works.Can a person who has had coronavirus get infected again?Although we do not yet know the answer, most people will certainly develop at least short-term immunity to the specific coronaviruses that cause COVID-19. However, you will still be susceptible to a different coronovirus infection. Or, it can mutate particular viruses, like some viruses do each year. Often these mutations change to make you susceptible to the virus, as your immune system thinks it is an infection it has never seen before.Can my pet infect me with the virus that causes COVID-19?At present, there is no evidence that pets (dogs or cats) can spread the COVID-19 virus to humans. But pets also carry certain bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that can cause illness if transmitted to humans. So wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after interacting with pets.What can I do to keep my immune system strong?Your immune system is your body’s defense system. When a harmful invader – such as a cold or flu virus, or coronovirus that causes COVID-19 – gets into your body, your immune system attacks. Known as the immune response, this attack is a sequence of events that involve different cells and unfold over time.Following the general health guidelines is the best step you can take towards keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, works better when protected from environmental attacks and is emphasized by healthy living strategies :Don’t smoke.Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.Take a multivitamin if you suspect that you may not be getting all the nutrients you need through your diet.Exercise regularly.Maintain a healthy weight.Control your stress level.Control your blood pressure.If you drink alcohol, drink only under control (no more than one to two drinks a day for men, no more than one day for women).Get enough sleep.Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and trying not to touch your hands to your face, since harmful germs can enter through your eyes, nose, and mouth.Although none is invincible, we have seen that older adults have an increased risk of death from severe illness or COVID-19. Under heavy circumstances, including heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, weight gain increases for those who are older. Also, as with any underlying medical condition, the risk of serious illness increases, regardless of their age.What kind of medicine and health supplies should I have on my hand while spending a long time at home?Please do not stock medicines at your home. It is dangerous for those who need it immediately, but are not getting it.Only take medicines prescribed by the doctor.Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipmentFever and pain medicineCough and cold medicinesAntidiarrheal medicinesThermometerElectrolytessoap and alcohol-based hand sanitizerTissues, disposable diapers, tampons, sanitary napkinsMedicalgarbage bags.Should I keep extra food at home?According to our Prime Minister of India, citizens are not required to stock food items. The Government of India requests us not to panic. Shops will be open for essential commodities. Please follow the orders of the Central Government and the State Government.Here’s the list of essential services that will remain operational : Offices Of the Government Of India, its Autonomous/ Subordinate Offices and Public Corporations shall remain closed.Exceptions :Defence, central armed police forces, treasury, public utilities (including petroleum, CNG, LPG, PNG), disaster management, power generation and transmission units, post offices, National Informatics Centre, Early Warning Agencies. What should I do if I think I or my family may have a COVID-19 infection?Call your doctor first for advice. If you do not have a doctor and you are concerned that you or your child may have COVID-19, contact your local health board. They can direct you to the best place for evaluation and treatment in your area.It is best not to seek medical care in an emergency department unless you have severe illness symptoms. Severe symptoms may include high or very low body temperature, shortness of breath, confusion, or feeling. Call the emergency department ahead of time to let the staff know you are coming, so they can be prepared for you to arrive.How do I know if I have COVID-19 or the regular flu?COVID-19 often causes symptoms similar to those who will experience a bad cold or flu. And like the flu, symptoms can progress and become life-threatening. Your doctor is more likely to suspect coronavirus if :You have respiratory symptomYou recently traveled to countries with ongoing community spread of the COVID-19 virusYou have been exposed to someone suspected of having COVID-19There has been community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in your area.How is someone tested for COVID-19?A specialized test must be done to confirm that a person has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Most often a clinician takes a swab of your nose (or both your nose and throat). The sample is delivered to labs that have been approved to perform the test. The number of tests and testing sites available are rapidly increasing. Still, it will take weeks before the test is available to everyone who may be infected.A special test should be done to confirm that a person has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Most often a physician takes a breath of your nose (or both your nose and throat). The sample is delivered to laboratories that have been approved for testing. The number of available tests and test sites is increasing rapidly. Nevertheless, it will be weeks before the test becomes available to those who may be infected.In the meantime, physicians will primarily test people with respiratory symptoms who have recently traveled to certain countries, live in a community with many infected people, or are likely to find that someone with COVID – 19.