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Coronaviruses

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) received cases of pneumonia of an unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, China. The cause has been identified as a new strain of coronavirus on January 7.

As there is no treatment for illness caused by coronavirus, it’s important to take precautionary measures to protect yourself from getting infected. 

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of this coronavirus are similar to cold and flu symptoms and include:

  • Respiratory symptoms.
  • Fever (high temperature).
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases the virus can cause pneumonia, SARS (a severe form of pneumonia), kidney failure and death.

Many of the reported cases are not severe, however, a substantial number of patients have had critical illnesses including respiratory failure, septic shock, and other organ failure requiring intensive care. Most of the fatal cases have occurred in patients with underlying chronic medical conditions. 

How are coronaviruses transmitted?

Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient. You may get infected by:

  • Direct contact with sick people.
  • Contact with animals dead or alive.
  • Direct contact with infected secretions or large aerosol droplets. 

Can I get infected with the virus more than once?

Immunity develops soon after infection but wanes gradually over time. Reinfection is common, presumably because of waning immunity, but possibly because of antigenic variation within species. 

How should I protect myself?

Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to the virus including maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  2. Dispose infected materials with nasal secretions properly.
  3. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
  4. Avoid direct contact with animals. 

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