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).
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered on 31st December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause was reported by health authorities in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, China and an investigation was launched in early January 2020.
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.
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.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
As of 16 March, more than 183,000 cases of the disease have been reported in over 160 countries and territories, resulting in more than 7,100 deaths and around 79,000 recoveries. Regions affected by major outbreaks include mainland China, Europe, Iran, South Korea, and the United States.
Credit: UN and Wikipedia