Dangers of Coronavirus
January 22, 2020
What is Coronavirus?
The virus behind the outbreak in China is being scrutinised by health authorities and researchers, but coronaviruses are nothing new.
They’re a big group of viruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold and gastrointestinal infections, and more recent diseases including SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
They’re named for the corona, or crown, of surface proteins that the virus uses to penetrate the cells of its host — in other words, the human who’s been infected.
How does 2019-nCoV spread?
Health authorities are still working hard to figure out how the virus spreads.
At first, it was thought that those who caught it did so directly from the Wuhan seafood market, which the first cases were traced to.
No infections were initially reported in healthcare workers, and the World Health Organisation said the fact that some cases did not seem to be linked with the market meant it could not rule out “limited human-to-human transmission” as a possibility.
Fast facts on coronaviruses
- There is no cure for the common cold.
- A coronavirus causes both SARS and MERS.
- Coronaviruses infect many different species.
- There are six known human coronaviruses.
- SARS spread from China to cause infection in 37 countries, killing 774 people
Cold- or flu-like symptoms usually set in from two to four days after coronavirus infection, and they are typically mild.
Human coronaviruses cannot be cultivated in the laboratory easily, unlike the rhinovirus, another cause of the common cold. This makes it difficult to gauge the coronavirus’ impact on national economies and public health.
There is no cure, so treatments include taking care of yourself and over-the-counter (OTC) medication:
- Rest and avoid overexertion.
- Drink enough water.
- Avoid smoking and smoky areas.
- Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and fever.
- Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
The virus responsible can be diagnosed by taking a sample of respiratory fluids, such as mucus from the nose, or blood.
There has not been a great deal of research on how a human coronavirus spreads from one person to the next.
However, it is believed that the viruses transmit using secreted fluid from the respiratory system.
Coronaviruses can spread in the following ways:
- Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can disperse droplets into the air, spreading the virus.
- Touching or shaking hands with a person that has the virus can pass the virus from one person to another.
- Making contact with a surface or object that has the virus and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
- On rare occasions, a coronavirus may spread through contact with feces.
To prevent transmission, be sure to stay at home and rest while experiencing symptoms and avoid close contact with other people. Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing can also help prevent the spread of a coronavirus. Be sure to dispose of any used tissues and maintain hygiene around the home.