Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019, attracts all the attention of the media. There was a cluster of pneumonia cases in China. Investigations found that it was caused by previously unknown virus, now named the 2019 novel coronavirus. This is a new virus and what is known about the virus now might change in the future.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses. They consist of a core of genetic material surrounded by an envelope with protein spikes. This gives it the appearance of a crown. Crown in Latin is called “corona” and that’s how these viruses got their name. There are different types of corona viruses, that cause respiratory and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms. Respiratory diseases can range from the common cold to pneumonia and in most people the symptoms tend to be mild. However, 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.  

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. 

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

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