Wednesday May 29, 2024

The coronavirus

By Dr A Q Khan
March 30, 2020

The whole world is in upheaval due to the coronavirus pandemic. About 195 countries have fallen victim to it. Thousands of people have died and hundreds of thousands are affected and are, or have been, under treatment. Medical facilities, etc have been stretched to their utmost limits.

Different countries are using different strategies to combat this menace. The best and the quickest strategy was adopted by the Chinese. Wuhan city (from where it all started) was immediately totally isolated. Nobody could go in or out. Thousands of doctors and para-medical personnel were sent from neighbouring cities. It took a heavy toll, but it was confined. Within a few weeks it was under control, the city was opened up once again and people were able to start their routine lives.

The people and the government gave their heroes (the doctors, nurses, etc) well-deserved accolades. Unfortunately, modern air travel has enabled the virus to spread all over the world within a few weeks. The matter is serious. Doctors all over the world are trying to find a vaccine. They will ultimately succeed, but it will take time and meanwhile there is a heavy toll to pay. Italy, France, England and the US are the worst hit. A laboratory in San Diego (USA) claims to have found a good treatment and is already testing it on volunteers. Anti-malaria medication was also said to be useful, but these reports have been received with reservation.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a virus is a sub-microscopic infective particle typically consisting of nucleic acid coated in protein which is able to multiply within the cells of a host organism. It causes infection or disease, sometimes (as in this case) quite fatal. Bacteria has been defined as being the plural of bacterium, a member of a large group of unicellular micro-organisms which have cell walls but lack an organised nucleus and other structures and include numerous disease-causing forms. Depending upon the origin, the two can cause serious diseases.

We Muslims usually look towards the Almighty to come to our rescue. The ulema have mentioned Quranic verses to recite to get rid of disease. Some ulema have advised reciting Allah’s name: Ya Allahu, Ya Hafezo, Ya Salaamo numerous times, adding Darood Sharif before and after these noble names. In addition to these, there are six healing prayers (Dua-e-Shifa) given in the Holy Quran which were conveyed to one alim Abul Qasim Qasheri by our Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Qasheri’s son was seriously ill, almost on his death-bed. He prayed to the Almighty. He dreamt that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) came to him and said that the Holy Quran has six healing verses. When he woke from that dream, he searched and found the following six Ayats: 1) The Almighty heals the breasts of the believers (9:14); 2) And a healing for the disease in your hearts (10:57); 3) There issues from the bodies (bees) a drink of varying colours (honey) wherein is healing for men (16:69); 4) We sent down, stage by stage, in the Quran that which is a healing and mercy (17:82); 5) And when I am sick, it is He who cures me (26:80); and 6) It is a guide and a healing to those who believe (41:44).

There has been general guesswork doing the rounds that this virus is a result of the combination of viruses from a snake and a bat. It has managed to sweep across the whole world in a matter of weeks, not months or years. On TV one can see it in colour. Thanks to the electron microscope, items can be enlarged to hundreds of thousands of times their original size, thus making it easy to photograph and identify bacteria and viruses and to prepare medicines for treatment and vaccines for prevention.

It is said that this particular virus enters through the mouth, nose or eyes and then settles in the throat. After two or three days it causes a dry cough and a sore throat. If not cured at this stage (hot lemon water, etc), it goes down to the lungs where it causes mucus to thicken to such an extent that breathing becomes impossible and the patient dies.

Timely treatment is of utmost importance and can save the patient’s life. If someone has a sore throat (and mild fever), the first line of defence is to gargle with warm water laced with salt and lemon juice. Preventative measures are frequent washing of hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizers and stay away from other people, maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters if avoidance is not possible. Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and get rid of the tissue immediately. Stay at home if at all possible and don’t receive guests.