Coronavirus Update – 6 March 2020 – COVID-19

Since Mopani Pharmacy’s first article, The Coronavirus – What we have learned, on 29 January, and it’s update on 4 February, a lot has happened. The virus had spread from a few thousand to almost 100 000 people. More than 3300 people have died. On 5 March, the first case of Corona had been confirmed in South Africa. We have learned so much yet we still know very little. The important part remains the same; educate others and share information!

New developments in the origin

New information draws a strong link to pangolins and bats as being carriers of the disease. At first the coronavirus appeared to have the qualities likened to camel flu and SARS as the general consensus. However, further testing showed a verifiable match between two viruses commonly carried by bats and pangolins, respectively.

A Guangdong-based research team have conducted studies based on a group of pangolins that have been rescued as part of an anti-smuggling programme. They started examining the animals after 16 pangolins mysteriously died after being rescued in 2019. Their findings revealed “most of the dead pangolins had a swollen lung which contained a frothy liquid, as well as the symptom of pulmonary fibrosis”.

Bats are the prevalent carriers of the SARS virus.

COVID-19 is now known as a hybrid virus. Somehow, somewhere, the SARS virus carried by a bat, and the other virus carried by a pangolin, coexisted in one living being. This is the virus that we now see, spreading like wildfire. It is unclear if this happened as a natural fluke, or due to human interference.

Naturally, it is plausible that pangolins could have fed on an ants nest that had been contaminated by bat faecal matter. Professor Ray Jansen from the Natural Sciences department at Tswane University of Technology in Pretoria, explained that pangolins often feed ‘blindly’. They sway their long sticky tongues from side to side to pick up and consume their food. It is very possible that they can pick up something unsavoury, originally from a bat. Then, hypothetically, once the pangolin was poached and consumed or stripped for its scales, the virus could have spread.

Human interference refers to the Seafood market the virus is thought to have first spread the virus. This is because although it is considered a Seafood market, the term seafood is used loosely. All sorts of wild animals are kept in proximity, sold alive and slaughtered. Airborne particles, faecal matter or even a dirty chopping board could have been the cause of the two viruses settling into one living / dead being and then transmitted.

Yes, the virus is capable of surviving in something that is no longer alive, as long as it has moisture.

It is probably impossible to ever determine ‘patient zero’ as there are countless ways these two viruses could have come into contact with one another to form a hybrid in one living being.

The Upside

China has banned the trade of wildlife and wildlife products, and although it is temporary now, this might inspire a permanent ban.

The Downside

Pangolins are critically endangered already due to poaching, and may now face persecution. Not being poached for use but rather to destroy in fear of them spreading the disease. It is of vital importance to protect the animals, as there is no evidence of them dying off in their natural habitats or spreading the disease to other animals as of yet.

How the coronavirus mortality rate is calculated

 At this point, statistics are flawed as there are numerous factors to take into consideration;

  • There is an overall mortality rate that is adjusted throughout the duration of the outbreak as new cases and deaths are reported
  • The duration of the disease plays a role
  • Deaths of those who made it to a medical hospital before they died vs those who perished at home and did seek medical attention makes a difference
  • Age and overall health factors in, as most deaths (more than 80%) occur in those above the age of 60.

Currently, the death rate is higher in China, and especially the Wuhan region because their medical care system is strained, and food sources are depleting. Unfortunately, the citizens are limited to noodles, and do not have access to fresh fruits, vegetables or meats. They are malnourished, so their immune systems are not as strong as it could be. Although many hospitals have been built in just a few days, they do not have enough medical staff or supplies to make do.

According to the statistics are as follows:

  • Mortality rate in Wuhan was 4.9%.
  • Mortality rate in the Hubei Province was 3.1%
  • Mortality rate nationwide was 2.1%
  • Fatality rate in other provinces was 0.16%
  • World-wide, the rate is capped at 2%.
  • Globally it is estimated that there are 2-3 newly infected patients from every case.

Something to think about

Any instance where animals and humans are kept in unsanitary living conditions, the possibility of disease lurks. It may not be the coronavirus, but it could be e-coli, staphylococcus, hepatitis, intestinal parasites or Ebola.

Support fresh, ethical animal product industries and report unsanitary practices where animals are kept in unsanitary and inhumane circumstances to your local SPCA.

To remember

If you are traveling or planning on traveling out of the country, monitor yourself. Although the median incubation period is 2 to 14 days, the longest period had been up to 24 days.

Make sure you boost your immune system before the winter with a healthy, balanced diet, moderate exercise and essential supplements, available at Mopani Pharmacy in-store and online

The corona virus is most severe in cases where patients are combating other illnesses as well. Be sure to have your family vaccinated against the flu as well, this winter.

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