On December 27, 2019, when Dr. Zhang Jixian, head of the respiratory department at Hubei Provincial Hospital, reported that a novel coronavirus was causing pneumonia among a cluster of patients in Wuhan. In fact, the first patient is thought to be a 55-year-old male who may have contracted the disease in the early parts of November 2019 and was seen by health professionals on November 17 that same year.

The corona-viruses are so named because under an electron microscope, each virion seems to be surrounded by a crown.

Coronavirus OC16. Reprinted with permission from Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1967;57;933–940.                      Source: History and Recent Advances in Coronavirus Discovery; The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal24(11):S223-S227, November 2005.



Corona viruses are very common. They are one of the groups of viruses that cause the common cold, a disease. The common-cold is mostly self-limiting; that is they do not require medications for treatment. Rather it is often managed with hydration and medications that relieve the symptoms.

There are however, more aggressive forms of coronaviruses; ones that cause higher disease burden by causing more severe illness and higher numbers of deaths.  You may remember the SARS-coronavirus outbreak of  2002-2004, which also started in China. The unique thing about COVID-19 coronavirus is the rapid spread and it’s ability to cause significant mortality and morbidity, thus enabling it to erupt to pandemic proportions.

Sadly, the world is yet to see a cure or a vaccine for this pathogen. Until that time comes when there is such a treatment, and even beyond then, let us all remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. Let us all exercise our freedom to stay safe. Observe social (physical) distancing, wear a mask when you are going outside your house, sneeze or cough into the crease at your elbow joint, wash your hands always, and avoid touching your face.



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