You’ve heard the name many times already, but when did it all start? The first recorded case of the Coronavirus outbreak happened on Tuesday, 31st December 2019 and since then according to the World Health Organisation, the outbreak has since affected over 80,000 individuals globally.
Whilst it does sound incredibly scary, it is important to note that the vast majority of those infected have fully recovered with the death toll figures still relatively low in comparison.
What is the coronavirus?
The coronavirus comes from a family of viruses that can cause illnesses similar to the common cold, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). These viruses were spread between animals and humans and there are still more coronaviruses that have not infected humans yet.
Where is the origin of the virus?
The origin of the virus has still not yet been confirmed by the Chinese Health Authorities, but it is likely that the source of the virus originated from a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife was also illegally traded. Scientists have also mentioned that the source of the virus could be bats or snakes.
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
The symptoms of the coronavirus can appear 2-14 days after being exposed, but the incubation period is still unknown. The symptoms can include:
– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
– Severe cough
– Impaired kidney and liver function
– Kidney failure
How does the coronavirus spread?
The virus spreads like other cold and flu type viruses. Droplets spread and are dispersed into the air from an infected person when they cough or sneeze which are then inhaled by a non-infected individual, although they will not show symptoms for a few days. The virus can also be spread through touching an object or surface that has the virus on it (think: door handles, toilet flushes, hand rails etc) and then touching mouths, noses or eyes.
How to prevent the spread and protect yourself
Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent the coronavirus but there are actions that can be taken to protect yourself from infection and reduce the spread of the virus. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the WHO (World Health Organization) suggest these steps to avoid the spread of all respiratory viruses:
– Wash hands regularly with antibacterial soap and water
– Use a hand sanitiser which is alcohol-based
– Cover nose and mouth with tissue or elbow when you sneeze or cough – dispose of tissue or napkin if used in a suitable bin
– Avoid touching mouth, nose and eyes if you haven’t washed hands
– Avoid being in close proximity with people who are sick
– Where possible, avoid from sharing items such as bedding, dishes, glasses and other items if you are sick
– Disinfect surfaces and objects that you touch often
– Stay home from public areas, school and work if you are sick.
– Contact a doctor if you have difficulty breathing a cough and a fever and tell them if you have travelled recently – do not visit the doctors surgery unless instructed to do so
– Avoid eating animal organs or undercooked/raw meat
– Avoid touching live animals and the surfaces they have touched if you are visiting a market with a recent / current history of the virus
There is still so much more to learn about the coronavirus with new information being released every day, but the main factor is to stay clean with good personal hygiene to do your bit to help prevent the further spread of the virus. The NHS have a guidance on hand washing, for more information.