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What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases predominantly in mammals. In humans, Coronaviruses cause respiratory infections – which are typically mild. However, these infections can turn lethal in some rare cases.
- In humans, coronaviruses are thought to cause a significant percentage of all common colds.
- Coronaviruses can also cause pneumonia and bronchitis.
- The 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is caused by a coronavirus, namely, the Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV).
Types of Coronaviruses
There are seven strains of the coronaviruses documented till date:
- Human Coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E)
- Human Coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43)
- New Haven Coronavirus (HCoV-NL63)
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV)
- Human Coronavirus HKU1
- Middle East-Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
- Novel Coronavirus (2019- nCoV)
Novel Coronavirus (2019- nCoV)
The Novel Coronavirus is also known as the Wuhan Pneumonia or the Wuhan Coronavirus. It is the virus that is responsible for the 2019-20 outbreak in Wuhan, China. The term “Novel” is used in the virus’ naming scheme as it is newly discovered. Hence, the term functions as a placeholder name.
Why is the Novel Coronavirus a cause for concern?
The Novel Coronavirus has never been observed before, hence, there is no specific treatment for the disease. Current anti-viral treatments are also deemed ineffective at combating the illness. Therefore, present treatment is focused only on alleviating the symptoms of the disease.
Initially, the NCoV was thought to be a zoonotic disease, however, current findings suggest that this disease spreads from person to person. It is suspected to spread through respiratory droplets (an infected person sneezing or coughing).
The reported symptoms of the virus include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory distress
Severe infection can lead to other life-threating conditions such as:
- Kidney failure
- Death usually occurs as a result of respiratory failure
As stated before, the virus has never been observed before. Hence, there are no specific vaccines for the disease. Existing anti-viral treatments are also ineffective at halting the infection.