The novel coronavirus that apparently originated at a Chinese seafood market is now creating chaos in all nooks of the world. As of now, this dreaded pandemic has killed more than 1,14,000 people, and the total number of infected people has risen to 1.8 million. As the entire world panics due to the coronavirus' killing spree, a pair of NASA astronauts will be returning to earth next week after months of stay in space.
A whole new world awaits these astronauts
The astronauts who will return from the International Space Station (ISS) are Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir, who have been living in space for the last nine and seven months respectively. When they began their trip to space, the world was not stricken by the coronavirus, and as they return, they are going to witness a planet that has been ravaged by COVID-19.
"It's quite surreal to see it unfolding on earth below. From here, the earth looks just as stunning as usual, so it's hard to believe all of the changes that have taken place since we left. We can watch news up here, and we've been talking to friends and families to try to paint a picture. But from up here, it's hard to understand what has transpired and how life will be different when we return," said Morgan during a press conference from the International Space Station.
Meir revealed that she is used to isolation in space, but it will be very difficult to stay isolated while being on earth. "It will be difficult to not give hugs to family and friends after being up here for seven months. I think I will feel more isolated on earth than here because it's expected up here. We're busy with amazing pursuits and tasks and don't feel the isolation," said Meir.
How do astronauts deal with disease outbreaks in space?
A few days ago, a medical expert who had worked with NASA revealed the various guidelines astronauts should follow during times of a disease outbreak in space. Jonathan Clark, NASA's former crew surgeon for the Space Shuttle program made it clear that the protocols in space are slightly different due to the effect of microgravity on diseases.
"The absence of gravity precludes particles settling down, so they stay suspended in the air, and could be more easily transmitted. To prevent this, compartments are ventilated and the air HEPA filters would remove particles," Clark told Space.com.