There’s a good chance that, until recently, you may not have ever heard of the term “Coronavirus”. Such pathogens are usually behind minor illnesses like the common cold; with the exception of the SARS outbreak between 2002 and 2004. Since many forms of the virus exist, with different types in both humans and animals, it can be difficult for many people to understand exactly what a coronavirus is and how it may affect their lives. We often deal with these viruses when we have a cold, as they are very infectious but not very severe. The challenge comes in telling apart the less worrisome common cold and the pressing concern of the new strain in China dubbed “2019-nCoV”.
Origin and Symptoms
The recent outbreak of the virus is thought to have come from the many live animal markets inside the city. The outbreak is believed to have begun in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market; filled with many small stores that sell live animals for food. This creates a perfect environment for the virus to pass on from animals, especially bats, to humans. People with the virus may not show symptoms for a few days after infection. This allows people who have been infected to spread the virus to close friends and family before ever even knowing that they are sick.
Symptoms of the virus include dry cough, dyspnoea (laboured breathing), fever and pneumonia; appearing as a kind of more severe cousin to the common cold. However, unlike its relative, the new virus has a high mortality rate, for out of a sample of 41 patients 6 (15%) have died.
The intense severity of the illness has created a firestorm of responses across the world. China has locked down travel out of Wuhan in order to contain the virus. On the other hand, countries outside of China have taken steps to attempt to contain the virus, such as Canada strictly quarantining its current and only case.
The rise of the coronavirus has broken headlines around the world, a stark reminder of the importance of proper hygiene. As the virus spreads throughout the world, always remember to wash your hands and handle raw food with caution. One day, it might just save your life.