In the first few weeks of January 2020, there have been reports of a Chinese coronavirus, which is a cousin of the prevalent SARS virus.
The virus has infected hundreds of people since the outbreak began started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus was first spotted by Scientist Leo Poon, who thinks that it likely started in an animal and has quickly spread to humans.
Poon, who is a virologist at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong said: “What we know is it causes pneumonia and then doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising, but then in terms of mortality, SARS kills 10% of the individuals.”
At the moment, It is not apparent how deadly the newly discovered Wuhan coronavirus will be, but total fatality rates at present are lower than those of MERS and SARS combined. Experts, however, stress that the data will change rapidly as the outbreak develops.
The World Health Organization has offered guidance to many countries on ways to prepare for it, and how to look out for the sick and also treat patients. Below is what you must know about coronaviruses and the Wuhan coronavirus to be specific.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a broad family of viruses that lead to an illness that ranges from the mild common cold to more deadly diseases. Some coronaviruses are transmitted between animals, some between people to people, and others between animals and people.
What are the Symptoms of coronavirus infections?
Coronavirus infections are quite common and mostly lead to the common cold. For young infants, cases of gastrointestinal disease are possible. Symptoms usually range from mild to moderate and may include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- A general feeling of being unwell
Although not so common, other types of coronavirus infections lead to illnesses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and can cause more severe diseases such as respiratory failure, pneumonia, kidney failure, or death.
If you get a coronavirus infection, what should you do?
If you visit or live in a country where cases of coronavirus have been reported, at the slight notice of cold-like symptoms, do well to protect others by doing the following:
- Stay home till you get well
- Avoid any close contact with other people
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or napkin when you sneeze or cough, then throw the napkin or tissue in the trash and thoroughly wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
How coronavirus infections are diagnosed?
Coronavirus infections can be diagnosed by a health care provider with the aid of reported symptoms and laboratory tests.
In some cases, like the recent outbreak in Asia, travel history may be needed.
Coronavirus infection treatment
For now, there are no particular treatments for most people who have contracted a coronavirus infection. What is known is that people who have common coronavirus illnesses will get better on their own. Your health care provider may suggest a few steps you can take to relieve symptoms.
Consult your doctor or any other health care provider as soon as you can if you are concerned about any symptoms or if you have recently traveled to a region with a history of coronaviruses. When it comes to coronaviruses, the sooner a person gets treatment, the better their chances are for recovery.
Cases to date
The Middle East respiratory syndrome, also called the MERS virus, was first reported in 2012 after an outbreak in the Middle East. It causes respiratory problems, but its symptoms are a lot more severe. Three to four of every ten people who got infected with MERS died.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, is one other well-known coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms. SARs was First identified in the Guangdong province of southern China.
Per information provided by the WHO, the disease causes respiratory problems but can also trigger fatigue, diarrhea, respiratory distress, shortness of breath, and kidney failure. Depending on the age of the patient, the death rate with the last SARS outbreak ranged from 0-50% of the reported cases, with aged people being the most vulnerable.
The Wuhan coronavirus is thought to be milder than SARS and MERS presently and takes a longer time to develop symptoms.
Patients of the Wuhan coronavirus to date have only experienced a slight cough for one week, followed by shortness of breath, which causes them to visit the hospital. So far, just about 15% to 20% of cases have turned severe, needing, for instance, ventilation in the hospital.
How it spreads?
Coronaviruses can spread via human contact with animals. Scientists believe that the MERS outbreak started in camels, per information by the WHO. With SARS, civet cats were suspected to be responsible.
Officials are yet to find out what animal may have led to the current outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan
When it comes to cases of human-to-human transmission of the coronaviruses, it often occurs when someone who is infected comes into contact with the secretions of an infected person, such as droplets in their cough.
Depending on the virulent nature of the virus, a sneeze, cough, or handshake could lead to exposure. The virus can easily be transmitted by using or touching anything that has been touched by an infected person and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Caregivers can be exposed sometimes when they handle a patient’s waste.
Human-to-human transmission has now been confirmed for the case of Wuhan coronavirus. However, experts are currently working hard to understand who is responsible for the most transmission, who is at the most risk, and if the transmission is happening mostly in communities or hospitals.
SARS and MERS were found to be primarily transmitted inside hospitals, and some people were also noticed to be “superspreaders.”
Who is affected?
MERS, SARS, and the Wuhan coronavirus have been found to cause more severe disease in those who are older, though uncertainty still looms around the recent outbreak.
Of all the recorded cases of Wuhan coronavirus so far, not even one instance of an infected child has been confirmed. The average age of affected people is 40 or over
Should you worry about the Wuhan coronavirus?
As mentioned earlier, the fatality rate of the Wuhan coronavirus is lower than those of SARS and MERS combined but is still comparable to the records of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
The coronavirus is a significant concern, worldwide, esoe4since the severity is yet to be understood.
Make sure that any symptom of the common cold is reported immediately, and personal hygiene is also taken seriously if you travel often.
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