An Overview Of The Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak

A new coronavirus originating from the Chinese city of Wuhan has been spreading globally ever since the turn of the new year. Here is what you need to know.

What is it?

The coronavirus is a family of viruses that includes the common cold as well as SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that coronaviruses are commonly found in animals and have only recently spread to humans. This new virus has not been named yet and is simply referred to as a "novel coronavirus" reports The Washington Post

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What are the symptoms?

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The WHO warns of respiratory symptoms associated with coronavirus which are fever, shortness of breath, and a cough. In more extreme cases the virus can cause pneumonia or kidney failure which can lead to death. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure so those who visited China in the past two weeks are encouraged to call their doctors by the CDC.

The virus can be transmitted between person-to-person through respiratory droplets in the air when a person coughs or sneezes. Reuters also reports that it can be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces like door handles or rails.

How far has it spread?

As of Wednesday morning, the New York Times reports a death toll of more than 130 (all within China) and the global number of those with the virus has exceeded 6,000. The virus originated from Wuhan, and has spread across China as well as to Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, France, Canada, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Germany. There are five reported cases in the United States.

What can be done?

Chinese authorities canceled Chinese New year celebrations which started on January 24 and locked down the whole city of Wuhan, reports The Guardian. Further steps have been taken to close busy centers such as Beijing's Forbidden City and canceling large group tours in China.

There is currently no cure for the virus and it is being treated by healthcare professionals by giving victims plenty of fluids and oxygen. Antibiotics will not work on the coronavirus. The National Institutes for Health projects that there will be the possibility of human trials for vaccines in three months as per The Washington Post.

The WHO recommends standard practices of good hygiene to avoid getting the virus just like the common cold: Keep your hands and respiratory passages clean, be safe with your food, and avoid close proximity to those who are coughing and sneezing.

This information can be very useful to those around you as the outbreak spreads exponentially. Be sure to pass on these latest developments, it might encourage somebody to seek medical help.