The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. If you look at it with an electron microscope, the image of the virus looks like a solar corona.
There are many different kinds’ of coronavirus, and some of these virus cause disease.
This newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19 that started in China.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
Detailed investigations have 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.
The novel coronavirus however, identified by Chinese authorities recently and since named COVID-19, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.
Little is known about it, although human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms such as 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.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
Also avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
China’s National Health Commission has said that the country has passed the peak of the coronavirus epidemic.
In China, the number of new cases has fallen to the lowest since the outbreak began.
China has also been given its daily update on the situation.
The National Health Commission says it had 15 new cases – the lowest since the outbreak began at the end of December – and 11 deaths.
The hardest-hit province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan continue to account for the bulk of the country’s 80,793 cases and 3,169 deaths.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Take the following precautionary measures:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
- This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
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Coronavirus death rate
“Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died.
By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”
Initially, the World Health Organization (WHO) had mentioned 2% as a mortality rate estimated.
However, on January 29 WHO specified that this was a very early and provisional estimate that might have changed.
Surveillance was increasing, within China but also globally, but at the time it was said that:
- We don’t know how many were infected(“When you look at how many people have died, you need to look at how many people where infected, and right now we don’t know that number. So it is early to put a percentage on that.)
- The only number currently known is how many people have died out of those who have been reportedto the WHO.
- It is therefore very early to make any conclusive statements about what the overall mortality rate will befor the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.
A study on 138 hospitalized patients with 2019-nCoV infection has found that 26% of patients required admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 4.3% died, but a number of patients were still hospitalized.
A previous study had found that, out of 41 admitted hospital patients, 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died.
Initially identified in China, the coronavirus outbreak is continuing to grow after it was first detected in December.
More than 135,000 people have contracted the virus. Over 4,900 deaths have resulted from the disease.
The spread of the new disease COVID-19 has started to take a toll in the United States in both large and small ways.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden both took the opportunity to explain what they believe are the most effective actions we can take against the current COVID-19 crisis.
In only the second Oval Office address of Mr. Trump’s presidency, he laid out his plan to deal with the health crisis currently facing the United States, one facet of which is restricting international travel.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,” said Trump during his address.
Some exemptions may be made for Americans or permanent residents who undergo screening before they return.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, in his own speech on the pandemic emphasized the universal nature of the risk COVID-19 presents.
“This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet, we need a plan about how we’re going to aggressively manage here at home,” said Biden. He also forcefully disagreed that restricting travel is an effective method of containing the virus.
Countries around the world are stepping up efforts to tackle a new coronavirus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency and has even refered to it as an epidemic.
Current estimates of the incubation period – the amount of time between infection and the onset of symptoms – range from one to 14 days. Most infected people show symptoms within five to six days.
However, infected patients can also be asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their systems.
Coronavirus vs flu
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs.
Older people, young children and people with certain chronic conditions are at increased risk for serious complications, including pneumonia.
But the new virus does share some characteristics with flu, notably each one of us can take measures to slow the infection rate.
These measures can limit new infections just as they can with the flu, gastro illnesses and other infectious diseases.
Research has shown that only two in 10 people regularly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
There’s no evidence that companion animals such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus as of now.
Like previous SARS viruses, Covid-19 transmits primarily through droplets of coughing, sneezing, saliva, or discharge from the nose.
While pets generate droplets quite easily, there are significant barriers for the virus to jump from humans to animals, and vice versa. In rare situations, when a pet carries the virus, it’s unlikely that it would spread to a person.
Knowing the science about how the virus transmits could help combat the abundance of misinformation amid the epidemic.
Just a few months ago when the daily death toll reached its peak in China, local officials of a village in Zhejiang province asked all residents to quarantine animals and slaughtered all stray dogs on the street. Another village in China made a similar rule to kill animals to contain the spread of the virus.
As more people start exercising social distancing and working from home, more frequent contact with your dog, cat or another pet is inevitable.
WHO advises washing your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.
It’s the pet owners, rather than pets, that have a higher risk of spreading the virus.
Coronavirus outbreak map
While most of the cases have occurred in mainland China, the number of new cases in China are tapering off as the number of new cases in the rest of the world continues to rise.
The chair of the WHO emergency committee said on January 23 that it was “too early” to call the coronavirus an emergency, and on January 30 on the organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency. On March 11, WHO labeled the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Confirmed coronavirus cases around the world
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Coronaviruses are viruses that cause disease in animals.
There are seven different types of Coronaviruses, including the new virus, which have made the jump to humans.
The new virus, officially called Covid-19, is also dangerous. So far, around 20 per cent of confirmed cases have been classed as severe or critical.
Around 15 to 20 per cent of hospital cases have been classed as “severe” and the current death rate varies between 0.7 per cent and 3.4 per cent depending on the location and, crucially, access to good hospital care.
Symptoms are most often fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment, but research is on-going.
Efforts are aimed at managing symptoms and supportive therapy.
Recommended preventive measures include handwashing, maintaining distance from other people particularly those who are sick, and monitoring and self-isolation for fourteen days for people who suspect they are infected.
With proper education and precautions we can control the spread of the new Coronaviruses.
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