As of 2020, everywhere there is a high alert for the new coronavirus. It has already infected over 75,200 people and more than 2,009 confirmed deaths due to viral outbreak in China.
The first-ever it came in limelight when the newly identified respiratory virus causing pneumonia was recently discovered in Wuhan city of China.
Since then, the concern has impacted globally and illness is popping up in over 20 other countries, including the USA.
World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the situation a “global emergency”, restricting the travel, business and the supplies of goods.
Though, an investigation is still going on to learn more about this rapidly spreading virus. However, among all the key questions, here’s everything you need to know about the mysterious coronavirus:
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a family of viruses named for its crown-like spikes projection on their surface that looks like a solar corona (in Latin, means crown or halo).
However, mostly infecting mammals and birds, sometimes they can easily jump from animals to humans and one human to another.
The human coronaviruses were first-ever identified in the 1960s. There are 7 different types of human coronaviruses.
Most of them are associated with a common cold and aren’t dangerous while others like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) known to raise more serious conditions.
Though, Chinese authorities have detected a new strain, novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with the same family as SARS which has not been previously identified in humans.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus is not really new. In fact, the virus is only new to humans as it has conveyed from one living to another.
In the current outbreaks of Wuhan, researchers are still trying to find out the origin of this deadly virus. Initially, they reported it to came from a seafood market where infected animals have spread it to humans.
However, cases have also come up in people who were not connected to the market.
Although it’s not clear, the new coronavirus has its transmission from bats. The rarest outbreaks SARS and MERS can be a result of animal-to-human contact.
With that said, SARS is supposed to be transmitted to civet cats and then to a human while camels are the intermediate source for MERS.
For instance, if bats infected animals and people came into contact with those animals or their products, they got the viruses.
Coronaviruses belong to the family of Coronaviridae and have a scientific name as Coronavirinae.
There are 7 strain of human coronaviruses that are divided into 4 genera: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Out of which, following are the four coronaviruses usually referred to contagious viruses affecting people:
- 229E (alpha coronavirus)
- NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
- HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
- OC43 (beta coronavirus)
Other types of viruses are more disquieting since they relate to acute complications like pneumonia and even death. These include: MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and COVID-19.
Usually, symptoms take 2-14 days to appear after exposure and range from mild to severe illness. Every person develops different symptoms depending on the form of the viruses they fall into.
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
Though, in a few cases, it affects your respiratory system resulting into ailments like viral or bacterial pneumonia and bronchitis. It also happens that people only become mild ill or don’t even show the symptoms and recover.
On the other hand, others are rapidly getting sick and have terrible symptoms of deadly diseases.
Infants, older adults or people with suppressed immune systems or existing medical conditions such as asthma or heart problems are at more risk of this.
Like any other cold-causing virus, coronavirus too have some common symptoms. So doesn’t necessarily mean you have the illness. Consult a doctor to confirm the virus existence.
How it spreads
As it’s a new malaise, examiners don’t really know how it spreads. But, similar to other cold and flu viruses, it’s believed to be spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets or with close contact to contaminated surfaces.
Here’s how it transmits to a human:
- People in close contact to another person with infection (within 3-6 feet area)
- While coughing or sneezing without covering mouth spread the infection into the air.
- Touching a surface or object having a virus on it and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose.
- Through feces (unclear) by some patients.
- From the hospitals and clinics.
Although it’s uncertain yet how long the virus survives outside the body, it’s very contagious and mutates very effectively.
Generally, people remain open to infection in the fall and winter. Also, the spread is possible even before people show symptoms.
Vaccine for coronavirus
For now, there is no specific vaccine or medicine to treat human coronavirus. Instead, the care is just supportive to ease your symptoms and help vital organ functions. In fact, most people with mild coronavirus recover on their own.
Below are the few steps you should adapt to soothe your condition:
- Take rest
- Drink enough water
- Using a cool-mist humidifier to relieve cough
- Taking medications to control fever (followed by doctor’s advice, of course!)
A doctor may diagnose the coronavirus by asking your travel history and doing a physical examination. In other cases, if needed, a sample of your blood or mucus from nose is taken.
However, clinical trials are going on to create an antivirus but it may take several months or years.
In spite of the fact that currently there’s no approved medication against the virus, you may be able to save yourself from being ill by being aware of it.
You just need to do the same thing you would probably do to avoid exposure to common cold or flu.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating.
- Avoid being around people who are unwell.
- Don’t touch your hands, nose and eyes repeatedly.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose by tissue while sneezing or coughing and then wash your hands.
- Throw tissues in dustbins immediately.
- Use sanitizers if no soap and water available to you.
- Clean the household and work surfaces or anything you touch regularly with a spray or wipes to disinfect.
- Ignore traveling to the areas with a high risk of coronavirus.
- See medical help if you find yourself a victim.
Health professionals are concerned about the growing cases of the virus. Scientists are learning more about this mysterious coronavirus and finding a way to deal with it.
Though, the best thing to fight any virus is to become aware of it. All its symptoms, the way it spreads and prevention tips can give you a lot of ideas to keep the virus and its complications at bay.
And, the good news is, nearly the majority of the cases do have a mild cold only and heal itself. If you see worrying signs about it, make sure to see a doctor first.
Hope this article has given you a broader picture of this newest virus – Coronavirus. So Be safe!