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What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

The 2019-nCoV or novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China is now spreading to 23 countries and becoming a global epidemic.

2019-nCoV or coronavirus
Source: Cambridge Mask

The recent outbreak of the novel Coronavirus or the 2019-nCoV has the world wearing face masks and wary of those who cough and complain of sore throats. What is coronavirus, what are its symptoms, and just how serious is it?

Coronavirus origin

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but its origin remains unidentified. Under an electron microscope, they are shaped like a crown, hence the name. World Health Organization (WHO) says coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and people.

The World Health Organization identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on January 7 following an outbreak in China in late December of 2019. It is a new strain that had not been previously identified with humans, and human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.

The efforts of determining the origin of the virus are still on-going, though health authorities in China said they might have come from a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife was also traded illegally.

An animal source appears most likely to be the primary source of the outbreak, says the WHO. This is corroborated by the Chinese scientists, saying that snakes may be the source of the newly discovered virus, according to Chinese scientists.

Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. Coronaviruses in dogs were the most common cases of this virus in animals.

Coronavirus symptoms

Most coronaviruses cause upper respiratory infection symptoms like stuffy nose, cough and sore throat, and they spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things that infected people have touched such as doorknobs.

In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Coronavirus updates

Most cases of the nCoV have been reported in China. All deaths have been in there too, mostly in Hubei province. Wuhan has been effectively sealed by the Chinese authorities, and some countries are working to evacuate their citizens from this province. Transport restrictions were adopted by more than a dozen other Chinese cities, affecting 56 million people. The coronavirus has spread to Asian countries, and in some parts in Australia, Europe and North America. This has led to several airports around the world to introduce screening measures and cancel their flights to China.

As of this writing, 170 people have died from coronavirus, mostly from Wuhan. 23 countries have reported cases of infection including Thailand, Hong Kong, USA, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, France, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany and UAE.

There is no vaccine yet for the new virus.

How the coronavirus is affecting China and its people

The Chinese people have thoroughly retreated from the streets and from public life. Several public spaces like the share bikes and bridges have lost the usual hustle and bustle, and people can barely be seen in them these days. Their anger and exasperation are well-documented on Chinese social media; they don’t understand how it was that the dangerous pathogen was among them and just how serious it was until the whole city and the most part of mainland China were shut down.

Coronavirus in Philippines

In the Philippines, there are 29 patients under investigation, 4 of which are in Central Visayas. As per Rappler’s latest update, one patient died of pneumonia on Wednesday, January 29, at the San Lazaro Hospital. He was being tested for the 2019-nCoV virus, but Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said last Wednesday that “there is nothing in the preliminary test results that would show that this death is caused by novel coronavirus”.

How to protect yourself from the 2019-nCoV

  • Clean hands always using alcohol, soap and water
  • Cover mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or by flexing elbow
  • Avoid contact with people who have fever and cough
  • Seek medical care immediately when suffering from fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing
  • Avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with them when visiting live markets
  • Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products
  • Wear face masks.

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