One of the many epidemiological diseases that led to a community outbreak is the respiratory syndrome coronavirus. The virus engulfed not only a few countries, but it spread like wildfire in the whole world; hence it is a pandemic rather than an epidemic. Countries that are affected by its consequences include China, America, Italy, Pakistan, India, New Zealand, Canada and probably every country that exists on the world map. It initially originated from the commercial city of China called Wuhan, Hubei province. The first detected case of this virus was identified on 17th November 2019, while on 31st December 2019, its identification was made official by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The first reported case of coronavirus outside of its origin country was confirmed on 13th January 2020 in Thailand while the United States of America confirmed its first case on 20th January 2020 (Holshue et al., 2020). According to the World Health Organization live statistics, there are a total of 11,669,259 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, whereas 539,906 people have died as a result of it (WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard | WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard, n.d.). Nonetheless, these statistics are unceasingly increasing day by day. However, countries like China and New Zealand have halted its spread.
B1. Epidemiological determinants
What are epidemiological determinants?
Epidemiology is a study that quests for the determinants of a particular disease that affects the community. Determinants are the breeding cultures and other factors that result in the dominion of disease and other health-related circumstances. They believe that diseases do not spread on their own rather, there are factors that are involved in its spread. When a person has multiple of these factors inside his body, then the person could contract the disease and become ill.
Epidemiological determinants of coronavirus
Coronavirus is spread from an infected person to another person in close contact via respiratory droplets, first-hand contact with the infected person or by touching any defiled surface.
The Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) is measured in order to check the virulence of a disease. However, in the case of coronavirus, the IFR changes for every region or country. Initially, 58 people died of this virus for every 1000 people in Wuhan, China. Similarly, in America, the case fatality ratio of this virus is 5.9%. However, these statistics vary when the number of testing is increased or the region is changed.
Mode of transmission
Coronavirus is spread either by direct contact with an infected person or by respiratory droplets (>5-10µm) thrown into the air by sneezing, coughing or even talking or through contact. When a healthy person is in the range of 1 m from an infected person who has respiratory symptoms, it is possible that he can contract the virus by inhaling the droplets that are sneezed or coughed by the in infected person. Airborne transmission is only possible when situations producing aerosols are involved e.g. ET tube intubation.
Coronavirus is unaffected by the hot, humid or cold temperature climate. The growth rate and the frequency of cases of the virus spread remain unaffected by any change in temperature.
Crowding is a determinant for Coronavirus as the lesser the distance from 6 ft is there, the more chances are there for the spread of infection.
Public health prevention measures
Health prevention measures such as washing hands after every 2 hours, using hand sanitiser often, maintaining a safe distance of 6 ft and disinfection of every object that is suspected of contamination if not practised, can lead to the contraction of the virus.
Risk factors of coronavirus
The risk factors for coronavirus are as follows:
Old-aged people and people having comorbidities (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, asthma etc.) are at higher risk of contracting the virus and hospitalization due to their decreased capacity to fight the virus. Whereas people within their young age of 20s have also been reported of virulence.
Competency of virus
Getting the positive result of PCR for coronavirus does not mean a person is ill and is able to transfer the disease as long as the virus is replication-competent (Criteria for Releasing COVID-19 Patients from Isolation, n.d.).
Behavioral and environmental conditions
People living in an unhygienic lifestyle where washing hands and maintaining hygiene is not common are more at risk of contracting the virus.
Immune compromised people
People who have a compromised immune system, such as cancer, and AIDS and patients on steroids, have higher chances of contracting the disease due to their lower count of antibodies which is required for fighting the viral attack.
Congested living and working environment
People who live in Congested environments such as dormitories and work in small spaces like small cubicles, schools, universities etc., are more prone to acquiring the virus.
B2. Route of transmission
There are not many sources of the virus transmission. The respiratory means include inhaling the droplets of sneezing and cough projected into the air by the infected person, whereas aerosol spread means when those droplets are suspended in the air and then inhaled by a healthy person. Another route of transmission is via physical contact, which means when the droplets of saliva are rested over different objects, and a healthy person touches it and then touches his face, nose or eyes.
B3. Impact on my community at a system level
Since the communicable disease has spread exponentially not only in my country but the whole world, it has drastically affected the organizations at a system level. Take an example of my school. My school schedule has been suspended for the past three months, and we have been relying upon online teaching and learning systems to cover our course. Because students have to sit closely together in the classrooms, that is why not only schools but universities as well are closed up until the “flattening of the curve”. Similarly, the working schedule of all office-going employees has shifted to an online system as well. “Work from home” is the new trend that everybody is following during the pandemic, be it small business owners or local government officers.
The organization most severely hit by this pandemic is the hospital system. Hospitals are over flooded with patients diagnosed with the coronavirus. Doctors are overdue their duty hours, and the hospital beds have fallen short for patient admissions. The outpatient department has been closed because people visiting hospitals unnecessarily can contract the virus. Hence doctors are scheduling teleconsultations for their patients, and only serious cases are entertained at the hospital premises. Emergency departments of the hospitals are overcrowded, whereas hospitals are getting short on doctors available to treat the viral disease.
B4. Reporting protocol of an outbreak in my community
In case of an outbreak spreads, my community has laid down some emergency protocols that citizens can avail of in an untimely event. The basic protocol that has been laid down by the local governments is that if anyone comes across an infected person, then he must Covid-19 reporting form. Then he must locate every place he has visited so that an appropriate investigation can take place. And once the case is confirmed, self-quarantine is recommended, with a follow-up in the coming weeks. The public health departments have allegedly asked all the laboratories to inform them of any detected case as soon as it is recognized after the PCR testing services. Moreover, the government established The National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) in 2009, which is an online based website that responds to citizens during all kinds of epidemics and pandemics described by state, local, and territorial public health agencies in the United States of America (National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) | CDC, 2019).
B5. Strategies to prevent outbreaks in my community
Considering that medications and vaccines are not yet available for coronavirus, that is why personal and societal strategies are important to practice in order to prevent its further outbreak. A few of these measures are as follows:
- Pay attention to the change in symptoms one is experiencing, such as cold, fever, tastelessness, breathlessness, productive cough, etc. Once these symptoms are recognized, quarantine oneself and rush to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.
- Practice social distancing of 6 ft as much as possible and avoid social gatherings with too many people.
- Avoid going outside of the house purposeless and cancel international traveling until the virus is contained.
- Opt for food items that improve and enhance the immunity system, such as the intake of vitamin C, green tea, citrus fruits, spinach, almonds, etc.
- Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible and use hand sanitizer whenever water is not available.
- Use a face mask if in the presence of a gathering to prevent getting in contact with the sneezing or cough droplets.
- Advise the infected person to take rest and sleep as much as possible and self-quarantine himself for at least 14 days after inhabiting the virus.