Silently, As I Lay Sleeping As 2019 wound down, a new threat emerged on the horizon. The world was oblivious. Then, as the new decade started, the news started creeping in, amidst festive cheers and celebrations. A new, ominous and hitherto unknown virus had emerged, slowly, silently. Photo Credit: Live Science Ground Zero for the virus, now identified as Covid-19 was Wuhan, an economic and commercial centre in the Hubei province of China. It has been determined the first case of the virus was identified there as early as December 12, 2019. That information was only released weeks later as this timeline shows. On the cusp of the New Year, authorities in China finally broadcast the existence of the new virus. New Year's Day celebrations turned sombre and since then a pall has shrouded the world. A Race Against Time It could take a long time before the global medical community, working around the clock, even as I write,\u00a0 determine the source and transmission vector of the new virus. It could take even longer for a safe and effective vaccine to be produced. In the meantime, people have started getting worried and fearful. From my last check, face masks have sold out, not just in Malaysia but in other countries too. Replenished stocks are gone almost as soon as they arrive. People are buying disinfectant liquids, sprays and wipes to ward off possible infections. Some pharmacies here have run out of stock but thankfully online stores are still going strong. How do we meet this challenge head on and protect our families and our precious young ones? Some help can be found here. Practicing good hygiene, exercising caution when out and about and being calm go a long way to being part of the solution. Understanding Outbreak With so much information streaming every which way, it can get a little hard to sieve through everything so as to understand what Covid-19 is.\u00a0 Hopefully, we can clear the air a little for you. Photo Credit: theStar What Is A Coronavirus? Coronavirus Identification There are many viruses out there, more than we can count. With constant mutations coupled with medical research, more and more are unearthed over time. It seems the more we learn, the more we still have to discover. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coronaviruses are so named due the crown like spikes on their surface. Corona in Latin means crown. Coronaviruses are not new. They have been around for some time. They were first identified in the 1960s. We have experienced the effects of Coronaviruses not too long ago. I remember the outbreak of\u00a0 the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov). That was first identified in 2013. Before that, I also recall the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS), identified in 2003. While the presence of Coronaviruses are not new, this strain, the Covid-19 is. Coronavirus Transmission Coronaviruses are all around us. Some are found in animals while others, in humans. Cross species transmission is rare. Usually sick animals infect other animals and vice versa for humans. Hence transmission is usually between the same species. The danger comes when transmission leaps from one species to another. In their detailed investigations, the World Health Organization (WHO) discovered that some Coronaviruses were zoonotic, which means that the transmission crossed species and viruses carried by animals infected humans. With MERS-C0V,\u00a0 dromedaries or camels\u00a0 transmitted the disease to humans. For SARS, the blame was put on civet cats. Transmission through direct handling of an infected species, is more easily controlled and curtailed. Danger occurs when the transmission crosses from animal to human, mutates and then transmits directly from human to human. When human to human transmission occurs it becomes very difficult to control and contain since the speed and spread of the disease fast outruns the ability of the medical community and governments to keep up. More insidiously, for some viruses, an infected person can be contagious even when there are no presenting symptoms. With the rate of global travel at an all time high and no signs of slowing down, it can take mere days for a new outbreak to travel the globe. Covid-19 Tranmission Photo Credit: The Star On January 1, 2020, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was shuttered, investigated and cleaned up. Amongst the usual staple of seafood and meat, it also sold a wide variety of game, which included wolf cubs, hedgehogs, civets, crocodiles, giant salamanders, and peacocks. The actual list is much longer, containing about 112 exotic items, some of it illegal. The source of the strain is still unknown although there has been much conjecture to date. Research is ongoing and the CDC has noted that although initial cases showed that transmission was linked to people who had been to the market, person to person transmission has also now been detected. Med Terms Some may be wondering what the different terms mean now that news reports are constantly streaming through. Here is a simple breakdown. Outbreak This refers to an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above the normal rate expected within the population, usually in a limited geographic area. Epidemic This is similar to Outbreak but with a larger geographic area. Photo Credit: aa.com.tr Pandemic This refers to an epidemic which has spread over several countries or continents, affecting large amounts of people. Moving Forward As of now, the WHO has declared the Covid-19 a global emergency. While this could cause jitters we need to stay calm and be informed. With things still in flux we can expect constant change. Be assured that the global medical community is working tirelessly to contain the situation and governments around the world are doing their best to stop its spread. In the meantime, exercise all care, take all precautions necessary for you and your family during this outbreak. Stay safe. Be calm. Disclaimer: Due to the shifting nature of the Covid-19, the information at the time of upload is correct. With further research, investigation and discoveries some facts herein may change in time.