The novel coronavirus continues to puzzle and overwhelm us. After over 1.2 million global cases and 65,000 deaths, the only thing that we know about the virus is that we hardly know anything about it.

In the beginning, we were told that only the elderly, or the very young, or the people with weak immune systems or underlying diseases were at risk and the young and healthy needed not to worry much.

But this was soon proven wrong. In Italy, one of the world’s Covid-19 hotbeds, 10% to 15% of all people in intensive care are under 50. In the US, now the outbreak’s epicenter, nearly 40% of patients who are hospitalized are under 55 and 20% are between 20 and 44.

In Pakistan too, a considerable percentage of people getting infected from the novel coronavirus comprises young an apparently healthy individuals.

The virus is not sparing young people when it comes to killing either: many of the fatalities in Pakistan are young people, a prominent example being Dr. Osama Riaz of Gilgit Baltistan.

There’s no dearth of examples where the virus killed the very young either. A 16-year-old girl in France succumbed to the virus on March 29. A 13-year-old boy in London died of the virus on April 2 with his funeral held in his family’s absence as they self-isolated. On April 2, the novel coronavirus also killed a six-week-old baby in the US.

This makes the assertion of only old or weak getting severely ill or dying from Covid-19 a myth that the new statistics are busting.

We were also told that the virus is not airborne so there’s no need for the general public to wear masks unless they’re caring for the sick at a healthcare facility or at home.

In fact, the World Health Organization still maintains that the virus is not airborne. It says that the virus is “mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.”

WHO maintains this stance in spite of new studies suggesting otherwise. A study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that the virus – which is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes – remains viable, or able to still infect people, in aerosols for at least three hours.

Just a couple of days ago, we also learned that the novel coronavirus is so contagious that you may be able to spread or contract it just by talking or breathing.

In addition to sneeze- or cough-induced droplets, Covid-19 could be spread by simple conversation via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation.

As the outbreak began, experts told us that masks aren’t necessary for an average person. Some even told us that masks may actually increase your coronavirus risk if worn improperly. Based on the advice of WHO, CDC, and other health authorities, we at ProPakistani also asked people to stop the mask frenzy.

But as it turns out, we do need to wear masks, after all, to cut the Covid-19 spread with growing evidence of the disease being airborne.

Health officials in the US have also told people to wear face masks as infections soar past a quarter of a million. While experts lock horns over coronavirus’ airborne status, we must start wearing masks in Pakistan too as the situation is only aggravating here as well.

A national action plan report on Covid-19 presented to the apex court by the government on Saturday projects Pakistan’s coronavirus death toll to reach between 5,000 and 7,000 in the next 20 days. The number of coronavirus cases in the country is expected to rise to 50,000 by April 25. Around 7,000 cases of the total are expected to be critical in nature.

Even this projection may not be the peak of the outbreak in Pakistan. Globally too, the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down with the days reporting fewer deaths than the previous one being hailed as ‘progress’. Countries are reporting daily deaths in the hundreds and lockdowns are only getting prolonged.

We don’t know the disease. It’s new, and it’s developing. Even those who say they know Covid-19 actually don’t. What we can do to stay safe amid this chaos and confusion is stick to more stringent levels of social distancing and hygiene.

Wear masks and gloves when around people or outside the home, carefully dispose them of after use, wash and sanitize hands more frequently, clean the products that you take home, and eat healthy are some key advices that we have for the readers.

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