What is coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 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. SARS, for instance, was believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS travelled from a type of camel to humans.
The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the image of the virus is reminiscent of a solar corona.
What are the symptoms?
According to the WHO, signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
The incubation period of the coronavirus remains unknown. Some sources say it could be between 10 to 14 days.
What to Do About Coronavirus
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are infected.
You treat a coronavirus infection the same way you treat a cold:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids.
- Take over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat and fever. But don’t give aspirin to children or teens younger than 19; use ibuprofen or acetaminophen instead.
A humidifier or steamy shower can also help ease a sore and scratchy throat.
Even when a coronavirus causes MERS or SARS in other countries, the kind of coronavirus infection common in the U.S. isn’t a serious threat for an otherwise healthy adult. If you get sick, treat your symptoms and contact a doctor if they get worse or don’t go away.
What is the source of 2019 Novel Coronavirus?
Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats.
Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting the virus likely emerged from an animal source. Analysis of the genetic tree of this virus is ongoing to know the specific source of the virus. SARS, another coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civit cats, while MERS, another coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from camels.
How can I help protect myself?
Visit the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like 2019-nCoV.
Prevention & Treatment
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being expose to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommend for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
See Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals for information on patients under investigation.
Bookmark this map to track Coronavirus global cases in near real-time
A novel strain of the coronavirus – a pneumonia-like respiratory illness – has spread rapidly ever since it first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019.
At the time of updating this article, there were almost 4,475 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe, with more than 98% of the cases coming from mainland China. 5 cases of the potentially deadly virus had been confirmed in the US, while the death toll in China had crossed 100 at the time of updating this post.
In response to this ongoing public health emergency, researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Maryland, US, have created an online dashboard to track the spread of the virus across the globe.
Is this a global emergency?
The outbreak does not yet constitute a global emergency, the WHO has said.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the decision to hold off on issuing the declaration used for the gravest epidemics should not be taken as a sign that the body does not think the situation is serious.
“This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,” he told reporters.