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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - A global health emergency

Nsanzabaganwa Christian1,*, Hitimana Nadia2, Byiringiro Fidele1, Sabin Nsanzimana4, Daniel Nyamwasa6,
Turate Innocent6, Mazarati Jean Baptiste6, Jose Nyamusore6, Zuberi Muvunyi6, Theophile Dushime6, Albert
Tuyishime6, Vedaste Ndahindwa6, Tharcisse Mpunga6, Daniel Ngamije6, Jacob Souopgui5, Mutesa Leon3

1Rwanda Military Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda
2Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Kigali, Rwanda
3Centre for Human Genetics, University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda
4Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Kigali, Rwanda
5Departmentcof Molecular Biology, Institute of Biology and Molecular Medicine,Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
6COVID-19 Joint Task Force Committee, Kigali, Rwanda



The 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of virus emerged in Wuhan Hubei, China in December 2019. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the virus spread worldwide and results in hundreds of thousands of deaths and was declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020 by WHO. Here we review the current literature on COVID-19 to understand its epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, radiological characteristics and management. We will also look at infection control and surveillance measures applied on a global level. Studies have shown a wide spectrum of severity and symptoms ranging from mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Human to human transmission and via droplets was reported and wearing masks, avoidance of public contact, hygiene practices and quarantines have been implemented in many countries to contain the disease. Quick laboratory tests COVID-19 have been developed and many supportive treatments were reported but to date, no proven effective treatment or vaccine is available. 


Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a large family of zoonotic viruses (transmitted from animals to humans). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that broke out in China in 2003 was reported to be transmitted from civet cats to humans, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was also transmitted from dromedary camels to humans.

Infected humans would normally present cold/flu-like symptoms. In some cases, symptoms might also present like severe pneumonia with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Cumulatively, CoVs have resulted in more than 10,000 cases in the past two decades, with a mortality rate of 10% for SARS-CoV and 37% for MERS-CoV.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain not previously identified in humans that causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The virus emerged in Wuhan Hubei, China in December 2019 with a typical clinical picture of viral pneumonia. The virus spread to other provinces in China, and outside China. In January 2020, following the rise in epidemiological statistics, COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization. After spreading to 114 countries,it was declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020.



By: Dr. Christian Nsanzabaganwa

Category: Outbreak report

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