What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses known for containing strains that cause potentially deadly diseases in mammals and birds. In humans they’re typically spread via airborne droplets of fluid produced by infected individuals.
Some rare but notable strains, including Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and those responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), can cause death in humans.
Where did it originate?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which can cause illnesses in animals such as camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Similar to MERS and SARS, these coronaviruses can rarely infect people and then spread between people. Numerous studies in China report a link to an animal market in the city of Wuhan where the virus is suspected to have emerged from an animal source in this market.
Are people outside China at risk of 2019-nCoV?
Although the virus originated in a small city in China, it is now rapidly spreading across the entire country. Moreover, several cases have been reported in 15 countries outside China such as the US, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Nepal, France, and Sri Lanka. According to data from the WHO as on 29th Jan 2020*, 68 cases have been confirmed in 15 countries outside China which takes the global count to 6065. WHO has assessed 2019-nCoV as high risk across the globe with China being at a very high risk.
How is the coronavirus spreading?
The 2019-nCoV coronavirus spreads from person to person in close proximity, similar to other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.
The disease can be transmitted through sneezing or coughing, which disperses droplets of body fluids such as saliva or mucus.
According to scientists, coughs and sneezes can travel several feet and stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes.
These droplets can come into direct contact with other people, or can infect those who pick them up by touching surfaces on which the infected droplets land, or touching a surface and then their face.
What are the signs and symptoms of coronavirus?
According to the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the patients suffering from 2019-nCoV have reported symptoms of mild to severe respiratory illnesses such as:
-Shortness of breath
-Diarrhea and vomiting, in some cases
In severe cases, pneumonia in both the lungs is also seen (the WHO was alerted following severe cases of pneumonia in Wuhan which lead to the identification of the 2019 n-CoV, which can eventually prove fatal. The symptoms are mostly similar to flu and flu-like diseases caused by other respiratory viruses.
How do you differentiate between normal flu and coronavirus symptoms?
If someone comes with a respiratory disease, it is very difficult to distinguish between flu and coronavirus by just looking at the symptoms. This is the reason that makes diagnosis important. Your doctor may recommend lab tests (such as sputum and/or throat swab) to detect the virus and know if the symptoms are due to influenza virus, coronavirus or other respiratory viruses
How I can be safe from coronavirus?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.