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  • There was an outbreak of a new virus called coronavirus, originated in Wuhan (thought to have originated in a Wuhan seafood market), China, has killed over 210,000 and infected more than 3m worldwide as at April 30th, 2020.
  • The virus has spread to every region in China and at almost every other country.
  • 80% of coronavirus deaths in China have been people over the age of 60, an official said.
  • Authorities have quarantined the entire city of Wuhan and a handful of other cities, with all transportation halted.
  • The WHO (World Health Organization) has officially declared coronavirus a global health emergency.
  • The WHO (World Health Organization) said “The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire, but for now, it’s only a spark … We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity we have to prevent a bigger fire.”
Coronavirus how to prevent it
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In the beginning: how coronavirus started.

On December 31, 2019, China notifies the World Health Organization of a string of respiratory infections in the city of Wuhan, home to some 11 million people. The root virus is unknown and disease experts around the world begin working to identify it. 

The strain is traced to a seafood market in the city, which is quickly shut down. Some 40 people are initially reported to be infected.

The death toll of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has reached at least 17 other countries, killed about 170 persons, and the virus has infected more than 7,711 people.

What are the symptoms?

According to the WHO, patients who have contracted the virus have had fever, watery eyes, mild headache and mild body aches, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath and coughing

The virus can also cause pneumonia, an infection that inflames the air sacs in the lungs and can cause them to fill with fluid or pus; severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Elderly citizens tend to be more often affected by the virus than younger people.

The incubation period of the coronavirus remains unknown. Some sources say it could be between 10 and 14 days.

Since the virus broke out in December last year, it has infected thousands of people across China. Cases have also been reported in more than a dozen other countries, including Germany.

These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases, including flu and the common cold. So if you have symptoms consider the following:

  • Have you travelled in the last two weeks to a high risk area?
  • Have you been in contact with someone who has?

How quickly do symptoms emerge?

Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 10 days after contracting the virus.

There is also some evidence, as yet unconfirmed, that the virus can be spread by asymtomatic people – that is people who carry the virus but are not yet sick.

If this is correct it will make the virus considerably more difficult to control.

Is the coronavirus contagious and deadly?

Some experts say it may not be as deadly as other types of coronavirus such as SARS, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide, more than 300 in China alone – during a 2002-03 outbreak that also originated from China.

MERS, which did not spread as widely, was more deadly, killing one-third of those it infected.

In China, however, the infection is more widespread than SARS in terms of case numbers but experts warn that fatality rates are hard to estimate in the early stages of an outbreak — and the virus may mutate as it passes between people. 

It is also impossible to predict whether genetic changes will make it more or less virulent.

Can coronavirus affect animals?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses causing infection in humans and a variety of animals including birds and mammals such as camels, cats and bats.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they can transmit between animals and humans.

wuhan china coronavirus data

Can coronavirus be treated?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that patients with SARS receive the same treatment that would be used for a patient with any serious community-acquired pneumonia.

As far as treating the viral infection goes, currently, “there is no proven therapy for coronavirus infection,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Testing is being conducted to determine if antiviral drugs or vaccines would be an effective treatment or prevention option.

coronavirus-cases
People in protective gear enter a Boeing aircraft of the Italian air force with eight of the Italians who were stranded in Wuhan.

Is there a vaccine for the new coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine but researchers in the US, UK and China have already begun working on one, thanks to China’s prompt sharing of the virus’s genetic code. 

For now, it is a case of containment. China has started building several  1,000-bed hospitals to treat patients which it hopes to finish within days.

Capacity to treat patients who require both ventilation and isolation will also be the biggest challenge for the NHS if the virus takes hold in the UK.

How is the new coronavirus spread and how can I protect myself?

Hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence.

Like cold and flu bugs, the new virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.  The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

It follows that the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitising gel.

Also try to avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands – something we all do unconsciously on average about 15 times an hour.

Other tips include:

  • Carry a hand sanitiser with you to make frequent cleaning of hands easy
  • Always wash your hands before you eat
  • Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems about touching things and then touching your face
  • Carry disposable tissues with you, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue carefully (catch it, bin it, kill it)
  • Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into
  • Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating
  • Regularly clean, not just your hands, but commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle.
the spread of coronavirus

Is it just droplets from the nose and mouth that spread the new virus?

Probably not, but they are by far the most common risk. 

The NHS is advising doctors that the virus is also likely to be contained in other bodily secretions including in blood, faeces and urine. 

Here again, hand and surface hygiene is the key.

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