Coronavirus is a new virus included in the family of viruses that cause common cold, SARS and MERS. It causes respiratory illness and is very contagious. The disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19 or, Coronavirus Disease -2019.
Its point of origin has since determined by experts in Wuhan city, in the Hubei province in China. The virus is thought to have first infected a human host in a wet-market in Wuhan, where different kinds of domestic and wild animals are traded.
As of now, this virus has spread and been confirmed in 203 countries and territories worldwide. The WHO has declared this pandemic as an international health emergency. So for this virus has claimed over 42,300 lives leaving countries in a state of complete lockdown. Countries like Italy and Spain are currently facing their worst healthcare meltdown in history with this disease being out of control. So far, no effective treatment for COVID-19 has yet been developed.
So, it’s important to be aware of coronavirus and how to protect yourself from it.
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Coronavirus is the name of a family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
There are a huge number of coronaviruses that are known but only 7 strains are known to affect humans. Coronaviruses have been determined to be transmitted to humans by animals.
The current strain of coronavirus was previously unknown. This new strain has been named 2019-nCoV. The strain is being relentlessly studied by scientists to understand it’s origin and nature. Scientist have determined it’s genetic makeup to be very close to a strain which is normally seen to affect bats. It is believed that this virus had mutated and jumped from bats to humans. There is also a study that indicates that pangolins, a small mammal native to Asia, acted as an intermediary host before the virus made the jump to humans.
As this virus is completely new, little is known about it. Thus, no treatment has yet been discovered.
Coronavirus can be transmitted between humans similar to the common cold. This virus has already spread to almost all the major cities in the world, causing governments to impose lockdowns to prevent further spread of infection. So far the worldwide estimates are over 859,000 infected, over 42,300 dead and 178,000 recovered from this disease.
Like the common cold, this virus spreads through coughing, sneezing and physical contact. After being infected, the symptoms appear after 5 days. Though this period may vary.
This virus is very contagious. International travel is being stopped, and most countries have already started taking various measures to stop this virus from spreading such as quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing.
The first symptom of infection is generally fever. The symptoms are like that of common cold. High fever, weakness and feeling tired are the first symptoms of coronavirus.
The next symptom of coronavirus is a dry cough. Coughing appears within 7 days of infection. Coronavirus spreads through the respiratory system, through the cough and sneezing of an infected person.
So if you experience any of these symptoms, always cover your face with a mask when outside. Avoid contact with anyone showing these signs.
After one-week signs of respiratory distress begin to appear. The signs include breathlessness, difficulty in breathing and in severe cases pneumonia. At this stage, the patient needs to be hospitalized.
So far over 859,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported and 42,335 deaths have been confirmed. Italy, Spain, France, China, Iran, and the USA have seen a sharp rise in the number of infected as well as rising death toll. Currently, Italy is the country suffering the worst with over 12,000 dead and the healthcare system on the verge of collapse.
The global mortality rate of this new virus has been reported to be 2%. However, as information is still unreliable and sometimes inaccurate, there may be more unreported cases of infection and deaths.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with alcohol-based soap or sanitizer. Wash hands after visiting a public venue and after greeting someone having symptoms of infection.
- Cover your face while coughing or sneezing. Use your elbow to cover your nose or a tissue. Throw away the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- Practice social distancing. Keep interaction to an absolute minimum and avoid shaking hands. If you have been told to self-isolate, stay indoors. Do not leave your home unless absolutely necessary.
- Wear a mask while visiting public or crowded places like buses, trains, markets, etc. Wash your hands immediately after returning home.
- While outside, avoid rubbing your nose with your hands.
- If you’re in a virus-risk area, avoid direct contact with live animals and poultry in markets or surfaces in contact with animals.
- Make sure your meat is cooked properly before eating. Undercooked meat carries the risk of being infected.
- Raw meat, milk and other food should be handled carefully to prevent cross-contamination.
- If you have been to an area experiencing coronavirus outbreak, speak to your doctor or health official for advice.
Coronavirus infection is now a global emergency. But following past outbreaks of swine flu, Ebola, SARS and MERS it’s necessary to be well prepared to prevent the spread of this illness and protect yourself.