Corona viruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel corona virus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China, and has resulted in an ongoing pandemic. The first confirmed case has been traced back to 17 November 2019 in Hubei. As of 5 July 2020, more than 11.1 million cases have been reported across 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 528,000 deaths. More than 6.03 million people have recovered
Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) possibly precipitated by cytokine storm, multi-organ failure, septic shock, and blood clots. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days.
The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, [a] most often via small droplets produced by coughing, [b] sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances.However, research as of June 2020 has shown that speech-generated droplets may remain airborne for tens of minutes. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms. The standard method of diagnosis is by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab.
Recommended measures to prevent infection include frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distance from others (especially from those with symptoms), quarantine (especially for those with symptoms), covering coughs, and keeping unwashed hands away from the face. The use of cloth face coverings such as a scarf or a bandana has been recommended by health officials in public settings to minimise the risk of transmissions, with some authorities requiring their use. Health officials also stated that medical-grade face masks, such as N95 masks, should only be used by healthcare workers, first responders, and those who directly care for infected individuals.
There are no vaccines nor specific antiviral treatments for COVID-19. Management involves the treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID‑19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020.Local transmission of the disease has occurred in most countries across all six WHO regions.
Covid-19 impact on environment
The worldwide disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous impacts on the environment and the climate. The considerable decline in planned travel has caused many regions to experience a large drop in air pollution. In China, lockdowns and other measures resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and 50 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxides emissions, which one Earth systems scientist estimated may have saved at least 77,000 lives over two months. Other positive impacts on the environment include governance-system-controlled investments towards a sustainable energy transition and other goals related to environmental protection such as the European Union’s seven-year €1 trillion budget proposal and €750 billion recovery plan “Next Generation EU” which seeks to reserve 25% of EU spending for climate-friendly expenditure.
However, the outbreak has also provided cover for illegal activities such as deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and poaching in Africa, hindered environmental diplomacy efforts, and created economic fallout that some predict will slow investment in green energy technologies. It is very likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will reshape the economic and environmental policies at an international scale Up to 2020, increases in the amount of greenhouse gases produced since the beginning of the industrialization era caused average global temperatures on the Earth to rise, causing effects including the melting of glaciers and rising sea levels. In various forms, human activity caused environmental degradation.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, measures that were expected to be recommended to health authorities in the case of a pandemic included quarantines and social distancing.
Independently, also prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers argued that reduced economic activity would help decrease global warming as well as air and marine pollution, allowing the environment to slowly flourish.
Researchers and officials have also called for biodiversity protections to form part of COVID-19 recovery strategies.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on travel and industry, many regions and the planet as a whole experienced a drop in air pollution. Reducing air pollution can reduce both climate change and COVID-19 risks, but it is not yet clear which types of air pollution (if any) are common risks to both climate change and COVID-19. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air reported that methods to contain the spread of coronavirus, such as quarantines and travel bans, resulted in a 25 per cent reduction of carbon emission in China. In the first month of lockdowns, China produced approximately 200 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide than the same period in 2019, due to the reduction in air traffic, oil refining, and coal consumption. One Earth systems scientist estimated that this reduction may have saved at least 77,000 lives. However, Sarah Ladislaw from the Center for Strategic & International Studies argued that reductions in emissions due to economic downturns should not be seen as beneficial, stating that China’s attempts to return to previous rates of growth amidst trade wars and supply chain disruptions in the energy market will worsen its environmental impact. Between 1 January and 11 March 2020, the European Space Agency observed a marked decline in nitrous oxide emissions from cars, power plants, and factories in the Po Valley region in northern Italy, coinciding with lockdowns in the region.
The reduction in motor vehicle traffic has led to a drop in air pollution levels. the lockdown measures have drastically dropped vehicular movement all over the world.
NASA and ESA have been monitoring how the nitrogen dioxide gases dropped significantly during the initial Chinese phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic slowdown from the virus drastically dropped pollution levels, especially in cities like Wuhan, China by 25-40%. NASA uses a ozone monitoring instrument (OMI) to analyze and observe the ozone layer and pollutants such as NO2, aerosols and others. This instrument helped NASA to process and interpret the data coming in due to the lock-downs worldwide. According to NASA scientists, the drop in NO2 pollution began in Wuhan, China and slowly spread to the rest of the world. The drop was also very drastic because the virus coincided with the same time of year as the lunar year celebrations in China. During this festival, factories and businesses were closed for the last week of January to celebrate the lunar year festival. The drop in NO2 in China did not achieve an air quality of the standard considered acceptable by health authorities. Other pollutants in the air such as aerosol emissions remained.
Since there were no boats, whether they be fishing or pleasure ones, plying on the rivers and waterways, the water has cleared up. In areas like Venice, the water became so clear that the fish could be seen and there was better water flow. No doubt, because of the lesser human footfall even the oceans are recovering and marine life is thriving.
Effect on Wildlife:
Again where fish is concerned, the lockdown has seen a decline in fishing, which means that the fish biomass will increase after over-fishing almost depleted it. Apart from that, animals have been spotted moving about freely where once they would not dare to go. Even sea turtles have been spotted returning to areas they once avoided to lay their eggs, all due to the lack human interference. COVID-19 is also having an impact on animals. Great apes, of which seven species are already threatened by extinction, are potentially vulnerable to this new virus. Lockdowns and the loss of tourism revenue also create challenges for protecting wildlife.
Although, the pandemic had crippled the world economy, it has caused a slight positive impact on our environment. Our world belongs to each and every spicies living in this blue planet, but saving the environment for every living beings rely on us people. We cannot wait for another pandemic to improve the environment, but we certainly can learn the lesson from it and we must contribute to make our world a better place for many generations to come. WHO has confirmed that Covid-19 is one of around 150 viruses that are in the wild therefore, we can imagine such pandemic can occur anytime in the future. All the government should stand firmly in order to improve the health and environment of all the living beings. As the popular saying goes: United we stand, divided we fall.
This article is compiled by Tashi Gurung and Tashi Dhandup Bhutia