According to the WHO, Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the image of the virus looks like a solar corona. The Coronavirus, identified by Chinese authorities on January 7 and since named COVID-19, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans. Little is known about it, although human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Current estimates of the incubation period – the amount of time between infection and the onset of symptoms – range from one to 12 days. Most infected people show symptoms within five to six days.
There is no cure for the Coronavirus yet although there are various ways of preventing it which includes:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Practice respiratory hygiene
- Maintain social distancing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
- Practice general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets.
- Finally, avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products.