What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
SYMPTOMS OR SIGNS OF CORONAVIRUS
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Although understanding of this disease continues to grow, most people with severe illness have been of an older age or had other significant existing medical conditions. This is similar to what is seen in people who have severe infections with other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE
Although there is no vaccine available to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. WHO and CDC recommend following the standard precautions for avoiding respiratory viruses:
Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch.
Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick.
WHO also recommends that you:
Contact your doctor if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and tell him or her about any recent travels.
Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or animal organs.
Avoid contact with live animals and surfaces they may have touched if you’re visiting live markets in areas that have recently had new coronavirus cases.