What is a Coronavirus?

What is a Coronavirus, how is 2019-nCoV / COVID-19 different and how to protect yourself?

Coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960’s . The earliest ones discovered were infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and two viruses from the nasal cavities of human patients. Coronaviruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract of mammals including humans. They are associated with the common cold, Pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome(SARS) and can also affect the gut.

There are different types of coronaviruses. They vary in the severity of illness they cause and how far they can spread. Common types of coronaviruses that can affect humans are:

  • 229F (alpha coronavirus)
  • NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  • OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  • HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
  • In December 2019 a Pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan China on 31st December 2019. The outbreak was traced to a novel strain of coronavirus, which was given the interim name 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization(WHO).

    The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,100 people and infected over 45,000 people worldwide. The vast majority of cases are in Mainland China 108 people in Mainland China died on 11 February the biggest single day death toll yet 2,478 new cases were identified in China, bringing the number there to 42,708.

    In India till 9th Feb alone, 197192 passengers were screened from 21 airports and 9452 persons are presently under community surveillance in 32 states 1,510 samples have been tested and 1507 of them were found negative except for three samples which had tested positive already from Kerala.

    This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person to person.

    Coronavirus can spread in the following ways also

  • Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can disperse droplets into the air. Spreading the virus.
  • Touching or shaking hands with a person that has the virus can pass the virus from one person to another.
  • Making contact with a surface or object that has then virus and then touching yours nose, eyes, or mouth.
  • On rare occasions, a coronavirus may spread through contact with feces.
  • Symptoms vary from person to person with a 2019-nCoV infection. It can also lead to severe illness and may be fatal. Common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Breathlessness
  • Cough
  • It may take 2 to 14 days for a person to notice symptoms after infections. There are currently no vaccines to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The only option available is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

    Precautions for safety against coronavirus are:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathrooms, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available use an alcohol based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Treatment information for other coronaviruses.

    There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronaviruses illness will recover on their own. You can do some things to relieve your symptoms.

  • Take pain and fever medications (caution- do not give Aspirin to children).
  • Use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough.
  • If you are mildly sick, you should.
  • Drink plenty of liquid.
  • Stay home and rest.
  • If you are concerned about symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider.