COVID-19 Pandemic - Coronavirus UPSC

Wuhan, the 7th-largest city in China, is the epicentre of a virus outbreak, the first few cases of which were reported in December 2019. This is an ongoing development and is also important for the UPSC exam, from the perspective of health and epidemic control. In this article, you can read all the latest on the COVID-19 (Wuhan Coronavirus) outbreak.

To stay updated with the latest news about Coronavirus, one can visit the Indian government official website – This official website hosts every relevant information regarding the Covid-19 and India’s fight against it.

COVID-19 Latest Information

In April 2021, it has been seen that many coronavirus patients are being infected with mucormycosis (also called black fungus), especially in Maharashtra. Know more about mucormycosis in the linked article.

Also read more about the covid-19 virus variants in the linked article.

COVID-19 New Virus Strain

A new strain of the coronavirus emerged in the United Kingdom and has spread to other countries including India. 

  • According to some sources, this variant could be about 70% more transmissible than the original strain.
  • India reported positive cases of the new strain around the end of December 2020.
  • More than fifty countries, including India, have imposed travel restrictions to and from the UK.
  • The new strain is called SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01 or “B.1.1.7.”
  • It was first discovered in September in the southeast of England.
  • This strain emerged independently and is not related to another new strain that emerged in South Africa in mid-December.
  • The new strain includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells.
  • There are concerns that although there may not be much change in the symptoms and the mortality rates remain the same, if the virus spreads more efficiently it may lead to increased hospitalisations, that strain the health systems.
  • But experts say that there is a high probability that the vaccines being prepared for the virus would work for the new strain as well.
  • As on 11 January 2021, there were 96 cases of the new UK mutant strain in India.

COVID-19 Vaccine

According to the WHO, there are over 50 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 in various stages of clinical trials.

Currently, the following vaccines are under trial in India for the fight against COVID-19:

COVID Vaccines in India
    1. This is India’s first indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine.
    2. It is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV). 
    3. The vaccine received approval for phase I & II human trials from July 2020.
    4. Then, after phase III trials, in January 2021, the vaccine received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted use in emergency situation.
  2. Covishield
    1. Covishield is co-developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca in collaboration with the Serum Institute of India (SII).
    2. This vaccine has also been approved under the restricted use in emergency situation.
    3. The government of India signed a purchase order of 11 million doses with SII for Covishield.
  3. ZyCoV-D
    1. This vaccine has been developed by pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila and it is the third vaccine in India to receive the DCGI nod for phase III human trials.
    2. This is India’s first DNA plasmid vaccine.
  4. Sputnik V
    1. Sputnik V is the first registered vaccine against Covid-19 created on a human adenoviral vector platform.
    2. It was developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute.
    3. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, is investing in the production and promotion of the vaccine abroad.
    4. In India, it has tied up with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.
    5. Currently, phase II human trials are going on.
  5. Biological E’s novel Covid-19 vaccine
    1. Biological E. Ltd is a Hyderabad-based vaccine and pharmaceutical company and it has entered into an exclusive license agreement with the Ohio State Innovation Foundation.
    2. Phase I/II phase human trial is going on.

Aspirants can also read about the RSTV – Coronavirus and Digital Solutions from the linked article.

1. Wuhan Coronavirus - Introduction
2. Symptoms of the new virus
3. COVID 19 – Indian Context
4. Latest Development on the Wuhan Coronavirus
5. Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak Timeline
6. What is Coronavirus?
7. Human Coronaviruses
8. Measures taken to combat the Wuhan Coronavirus

Wuhan Coronavirus – Introduction

  • This is a new coronavirus that has been identified for the first time in the city of Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei Province in mainland China. 
    • It was identified after people developed pneumonia without an evident cause and where current vaccines and treatment methods were not effective.
    • There have been around 80000 people infected with the virus in China. There have also been about 4600 fatalities there, exceeding those from SARS. 
    • Cases have also been reported outside China, in Hong Kong, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Australia, Thailand, France, Spain, Germany, the US, countries in West Asia, etc. totaling over 200 countries. India reported its first case towards the end of January 2020.
    • Worldwide, there have been more than 2.18 crore cases and more than 7.72 lakh deaths.
    • Some of the worst-effected countries are Brazil, the US, the UK, Spain, India and Italy.
    • There is not much known about the new coronavirus, which has been designated 2019-nCoV.
    • It is considered a novel virus outbreak because the virus is novel (new – not seen earlier).
    • Symptoms of the new virus include:
    • Fever
    • Coughing
    • Muscle pain
    • Fatigue 
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Can cause pneumonia (infection of one or both lungs)
    • Can be fatal
  • After a slow onset in an infected body, the disease spreads rapidly in the second week.
  • Hypoxemia caused due to intensifying lung injury leads to difficulty in breathing and the need for oxygen therapy.
  • Another common complication observed is ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome).
  • Other complications include acute kidney injury, septic shock and virus-induced cardiac injury.
  • The incubation period for the virus ranges from 2 to 14 days. 
    • The incubation period is the time starting from exposure to the virus to developing symptoms.
    • During the incubation period, the Wuhan virus is contagious.
  • The virus is believed to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that was involved in the illegal sale of wildlife.
  • Many early patients of the virus had some link to the market, suggesting an animal-to-human spread.
  • A further rise in the number of patients (who have not had exposure to the market) suggests that person-to-person spread is happening. However, at present, it is not clear as to how this spreading occurs between people.

COVID 19 – Indian Context

The national lockdown of 21 days, announced on 24th March 2020 by PM Narendra Modi was extended till 3rd May 2020. The announcement of the lockdown extension in India was made on 14th April 2020 by the PM. The developments regarding the Coronavirus and the pandemic in India are listed below:

  • The first case of the Novel Coronavirus in India was confirmed in Kerala; the patient is a female student at Wuhan University, on 30th January 2020. She had traveled back to her home town.
  • Two more cases were confirmed from the same state of Kerala. 
  • The Kerala state government has declared a ‘state calamity’.
  • On March 3rd, 2020, two new cases were detected in Delhi and Telangana. Both patients are said to be stable.
  • As of March 5th, 2020, with more than 23 confirmed cases in the country, the total number of infections in India has gone up to 29, out of which 14 are tourists from Italy.
  • The Union Health Minister has told the Parliament that 28,529 people are being monitored.
  • As of 17th March, about 130 people in India have been infected with the coronavirus, and three deaths have been reported from Karnataka, Delhi and Maharashtra.
  • On 19th March, the total number of cases of persons infected with COVID-19 rose to 170 including the three deaths.
  • On 20th March, the number of cases in the country surpasses 200.
  • As of 23rd March, the total number of cases in India rose to 415. The number of fatalities is 7 till date.
  • On 24th March, Prime Minister Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in a bid to curb the rapid spread of the virus.
  • As of 26th March, the number of cases has risen to 649 with the death toll rising to 13.
  • On 2nd April, the death toll stands at 50, with 1965 infections in total (including 151 cured/discharged/migrated).
  • On 8th April, the number of cases in India topped 5000 and more than 150 fatalities.
  • On 16th April, the number of cases has crossed 12000 and the total number of deaths crossed 400.
  • On 27 April, the number of cases has almost touched 28000 and 872 people have died due to the coronavirus.
  • As of 28th May, the number of affected people in the country touched 1,58,000. The total number of deaths is 4531. More than 67000 people have recovered from the virus.
  • Maharashtra is the worst-affected state with more than 5.96 lakh confirmed cases, followed by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  • By mid-August, the total number of cases in India is more than 27 lakhs, with more than 51000 fatalities. More than 19.8 lakh people have also recovered from the coronavirus.

The government authorities have taken many measures to prevent the further spread of the virus.

  • Travel advisories are being revised as and when new updates are being confirmed about the coronavirus.
  • Anyone with a travel history to China since 15th January could be kept in quarantine.
  • The government has also issued a travel warning to China and urged people to refrain from visiting the country.
  • E-Visa facilities have been blocked for the time being for Chinese nationals. E-Visa already issued will also be invalid.
  • Further, the online facility for submitting an application for a physical visa from China is also suspended.
  • Chinese nationals who have a compelling reason to visit India are being asked to contact the Indian consulate at Shanghai or Guangzhou, or the embassy in Beijing.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued instructions to all national and international airlines to comply with the above advisory for their operations from China.
  • The Indian government has evacuated its nationals (around 650 in number) from Wuhan in two batches. Air India flights fetched the Indian nationals who were stranded in Wuhan, along with 7 Maldivian nationals as well.
    • Most of the Indians were students who were pursuing studies in China.
    • The rescued people were subject to quarantine on arrival for medical examinations.
  • The government has also evacuated its citizens from many other countries where the virus has caused a lot of damage, like Italy, Iran, etc. More than 2000 citizens have been evacuated from different countries including China.
  • Airports are screening passengers in 21 airports, international seaports and border crossings, especially with Nepal.
  • All flights from Thailand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam were being screened.
  • Currently, universal screening at all international airports and sea-ports are being conducted using thermal imagery equipment. The passengers will also have to mandatorily fill forms of places visited by them abroad.
  • Additionally, 28,529 people in various Indian states and UTs are under community surveillance.
  • In airports, dedicated aerobridges are already in place for flights from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia. Now, with the rising number of cases in the USA, Spain and France, India has decided to have separate aerobridges for flights from these 3 countries also.
  • To meet the rising demands of health workers in airports, more doctors, paramedics and nurses have been deployed.

Latest Travel Advisory Update by the GOI: No scheduled international commercial spacecraft will be allowed to land in India from 22nd March 2020.

  • The government also extended the visa of foreigners stranded in India till April 15.
  • As the number of cases rise in the country, many districts have announced complete lockdowns. Interstate travel is restricted, and the government is constantly advising people to remain indoors and avoid unnecessary travel.
  • All train services including suburban rail services are suspended till 31st March. Interstate passenger transport is suspended.
  • All metro rail services have been suspended till 31st March 2020.  State Governments have issued orders allowing only essential services to operate in about 75 districts with confirmed cases.
  • The government has asked private firms to mandate work from home for all employees.
  • Only essential services (medical stores, vegetables, milk, groceries, etc.) to remain open in many parts of the country.
  • The operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations with effective from the mid night 23.59 IST hours on 24th March.
  • The government has divided the districts of the country into three, to manage the situation:
    • Hotspot districts,
    • Non-Hotspot districts with reported cases, and
    • Green zone districts.
  • The government is carrying out a phased lifting of lockdown in order to mitigate the effects of the spread, and also to resume partial economic activity.
  • On May 4th, the lockdown was extended till the 17th of the month with eased restrictions in districts depending upon the areas’s category.
  • The government has also decided to repatriate stranded Indians from the Maldives and Singapore.
  • The government has announced a special financial package on 12 May, worth Rs. 20 Lakh Crores for helping the economy revive.

To know more about the government’s COVID-19 relief packages Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and the Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme, click on the linked articles in the table at the end of this page.

Latest Development on the Wuhan Coronavirus

India reported its first case of the Wuhan Coronavirus on 30th Jan 2020. The patient is a female student of Wuhan University from Kerala. She had returned from China and was diagnosed in Kerala. She has been kept in isolation and her condition is said to be stable.

Two more cases have been confirmed from Kerala as of February 2020. The patients have been kept in isolation in the hospital and their conditions are said to be stable.

About 4000 patients have also recovered from the disease in China.

The Novel Coronavirus has now officially been named COVID-19 by the WHO. “co” stands for “corona”, “vi” for “virus” and “d” for “disease”, while “19” stands for the year when the outbreak was first identified (on December 31, 2019).

On March 12, 2020, the first COVID-related death in India was reported from Bangalore, when a 76-year old man died, having tested positive for COVID-19.

Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak Timeline

A timeline of the Wuhan virus outbreak is outlined below:

Dec 31, 2019: China alerts the World Health Organisation (WHO) to several cases of pneumonia.

Jan 1, 2020: The seafood market in Wuhan is shut down.

Jan 5, 2020: Chinese officials rule out the possibility of the SARS virus.

Jan 7, 2020: The new virus named 2019-nCoV is identified.

Jan 11, 2020: First death is announced by China.

Jan 13, 2020: The first case outside China is reported by the WHO, in Thailand.

Jan 23, 2020: The City of Wuhan is placed under quarantine. Air and rail traffic are suspended.

Jan 25, 2020: Travel restrictions imposed in another five cities in the Hubei Province.

Jan 30, 2020: First case detected in India, in the southern state of Kerala. Also, the virus outbreak declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO.

Feb 1, 2020: WHO declares the outbreak a global emergency. Read more on this at CNA dated Feb 1, 2020.

Feb 11, 2020: The death toll in mainland China crosses the one thousand mark.

Feb 12, 2020: The virus has officially been named COVID-19 by the WHO.

Mar 03, 2020: New new cases detected in Delhi and Telangana.

Mar 05, 2020: 23 new confirmed cases in India, 14 of them being tourists from Italy.

Mar 08, 2020: The number of confirmed cases in India rises to 39.

Mar 11, 2020: The WHO declared the outbreak as a ‘pandemic’.

Mar 12, 2020: The number of cases in India goes up to 60. The first death in India reported from Bangalore.

Mar 13, 2020: The number of cases in India is up to 75.

Mar 16, 2020: The number of cases in India goes up to 116. Uttarakhand reports its first case of COVID-19.

Mar 20, 2020: Total number of cases in India rises to 223. Four deaths so far.

Mar 23, 2020: Total confirmed cases 415; death toll 8.

Mar 24, 2020: All domestic commercial airline operations will cease from the midnight of 24th March. Cargo carrying flights are exempted. Nationwide lockdown begins at midnight.

Mar 26, 2020: The total death toll in India from COVID-19 rises to 13; the number of cases 649.

Mar 30, 2020: Death tally in India crosses the 30 mark. The number of infections has risen to 1190. Worldwide, more than 7 lakh people have been affected by the virus.

Apr 2, 2020: Death toll in India reaches 50. The total number of infections rises to 1965 and this includes 151 cured/discharged/migrated cases.

Apr 6, 2020: The number of deaths in India crosses the 100 mark. Total infections rise to more than 4000. The worst-affected states are Kerala and Maharashtra. PM Modi indicates there might be a phased opening of the lockdown.

Apr 9, 2020: Total number of cases at 5865 and the number of fatalities stands at 169.

Apr 16, 2020: India’s total cases is 12380 (including 10477 active cases +1489 cured/discharged/migrated). Total deaths is now 414.

Apr 21, 2020: Total number of cases in India rise to 17,265. There has been a total of 543 deaths. There have been no cases reported in the last 14 days from 23 states and 59 districts. There are also no active cases reported from the state of Goa.

Apr 27, 2020: The number of cases in India is now 27,892, with 872 fatalities. More than 6000 people have recovered from COVID-19.

May 7, 2020: The total number of people who have been infected is almost 53000. Total deaths is over 1700.

May 12, 2020: The government announced a special financial package for a self-reliant India. Read more on the package on our CNA dated 13 May 2020.

May 13, 2020: The total number of COVID-19 infected persons in the country has risen to 75000. The death toll is now 2293. More than 22000 people have been treated and discharged so far.

May 28, 2020: The total number of COVID-19 affected people in India is more than 1.5 lakhs. There have been more than 4000 deaths also.

June 22, 2020: The total number of affected people in the country rise to 4.25 lakhs with more than 13500 deaths.

August 17, 2020: The total number of COVID-affected people in the country rise to 27 lakhs with more than 51000 deaths.

September 8, 2020: The total number of COVID-cases in the country stands at 4.56 million, with 3.56 million recoveries and 76,721 deaths

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in various species of animals, such as cattle, camels, bats, and cats. They cause diseases ranging from cold to SARS.

  • In some cases, animal coronaviruses can infect humans, which can then spread from person to person.
  • This happened in the case of the SARS and MERS coronaviruses. It is also suggested that this might be happening in the current China virus case.
  • Coronaviruses cause respiratory infections in humans which are generally mild, but sometimes, can be fatal.
  • Coronaviruses are physically large as far as viruses go (26 – 32 kilobases), having a surface of spike projections (which resembles a crown and hence the name ‘corona’).
  • Like the influenza virus, the coronavirus spreads through both direct and indirect contact.
    • Direct contact happens through a physical transfer of the microorganism through close contact with oral secretions.
    • Indirect contact happens when a person infected with the virus sneezes or coughs, which spreads the virus droplets on surfaces.
  • Person-to-person spread occurred with MERS and SARS mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, quite like how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

Human Coronaviruses

There are seven strains of human coronaviruses. They are:

  1. Human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E)
  2. Human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43)
  3. SARS-CoV
  4. Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63, New Haven coronavirus)
  5. Human coronavirus HKU1
  6. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  7. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – Wuhan pneumonia or Wuhan coronavirus, COVID-19

Coronaviruses are known to cause a significant percentage of all common colds in human beings (adults and children). 

Given below is a comparison of three coronaviruses that hit the headlines:

Coronavirus name COVID-19 SARS MERS
Full form Novel coronavirus Severe acute respiratory syndrome Middle East respiratory syndrome
Country of origin China China Saudi Arabia
Primary host Probably bats (unconfirmed) Bats  Bats 
Intermediate host Not identified Masked Palm Civets  Camels 

For more information on the latest available scientific data on the COVID-19 virus, refer to our PIB dated 1st April, 2020.

Zoonotic Diseases

Diseases that pass from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. They are rare. The chief concern with them is that since they are new to humans, the human body does not have any immunity to them. 

Zoonotic diseases are also called zoonoses. They are caused by harmful germs such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. 

How Zoonotic Diseases spread?

  • Direct contact: with saliva, urine, and other bodily fluids, by touching or petting animals.
  • Indirect contact: coming into contact with areas where animals live, or with objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with germs.
  • Vector-borne: being bitten by insects like mosquitoes, fleas or ticks.
  • Foodborne: eating contaminated food.

More on Zoonotic Diseases.

Measures are taken to combat the Wuhan Coronavirus

There are no specific treatments for human coronaviruses. 2019-nCoV does not have a vaccine or any effective treatment. One method of fighting the spread of the disease is to take preventive measures. 

The following is the advisory issued by the Government of India:

Government advisory on COVID-19

  • The WHO recommends people to do regular handwashing, cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and avoid close contact with anyone suspected of being infected or showing respiratory illness symptoms.
  • In China, authorities are taking measures to curb the spread of the virus and prevent a SARS-like situation. SARS, which originated in China, spread to more than 35 countries and killed almost 800 people.
  • People in public places are asked to wear face masks.
  • Schools and universities have extended their winter breaks in view of the epidemic-like situation in Wuhan.
  • Hong Kong and Macau have declared emergencies.
  • All passengers travelling from China are being checked at airports.
  • Travel within China is also highly restricted with private vehicles being banned in Wuhan.

Kickstart your UPSC 2023 Preparation today!

Related Links
Nipah Virus IAS Eligibility
NCERT Notes for UPSC PIB Summary
UPSC Current Affairs UPSC MCQs on Science & Tech
Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

Daily News


Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.



  1. good