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In 2020, an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China killed over 2,500 people and infected over 77,000. The virus has spread to over 20 countries, including India.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they can be transmitted from animals to humans. The spikes protruding from the virus's membrane look like the sun's corona. It is from this that the virus gets get the name 'coronavirus'. It causes illnesses of the respiratory tract, ranging from the common cold to severe conditions like SARS. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Symptoms of coronavirus
Coronavirus can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Some of the symptoms are
— A general feeling of being unwell
— Runny nose
— Sore throat
— Headache
— Cough
— Fever
In case someone is facing lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, they must seek professional health immediately.
Who is more likely to be a victim coronavirus?
People with a weakened immune system, cardiopulmonary disease, infants, and older adults are more likely to be affected by a coronavirus.
How do you catch coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are zoonotic. This implies that they are passed on between animals and people. When Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) sickened thousands of people around the world — and killed nearly 800 — during a 2003 outbreak, investigations found that it was transmitted from civet cats to humans. MERS-CoV was transmitted from camels to humans. There are several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. On January 7, the Chinese authorities identified coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as the causative virus behind cases of pneumonia of unknown cause. This novel coronavirus has not been previously identified in humans, hence experts say its too early to figure out the exact cause of the infection.
How dangerous is coronavirus? Does coronavirus cause death?
A few coronaviruses are known to be deadly. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which was first reported in the Middle East, causes severe respiratory problems. Four out of every 10 patients infected with MERS died in 2012.
The infamous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) causes even more severe symptoms. Along with respiratory problems, it also causes diarrhoea, shortness of breath, fatigue and kidney failure. The death rate with SARS was higher, with older people being the most vulnerable.
The new virus (2019-nCoV), which started in China's Wuhan had, till January 22, 2020, claimed nine lives and over 400 people were diagnosed positive.
How is coronavirus diagnosed?
Doctors may recommend the patient to undergo tests on respiratory specimens and serum to detect coronaviruses. If anyone experiences the symptoms, they must inform their doctor about recent travel or contact with animals.
Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus, and no vaccine to prevent it.
How contagious is coronavirus?
— Coronaviruses are highly contagious. Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can spread the virus.
— Touching hands of a person that has the virus can pass the virus from one person to another
— Making contact with an object that has the virus and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth can infect a person
— A coronavirus may spread through contact with faeces.
Coronavirus and pregnancy
In pregnant women, the severe versions of SARS and MERS coronaviruses were found to be severe. According to reports, women who suffered from severe versions of coronaviruses had stillbirth.
What are the precautions for Coronavirus?
— Wash your hands thoroughly with soap
— Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unclean hands
— Avoid close contact with people who are sick
— Avoid public gatherings

Why was this virus named COVID-19?

On February, World Health Organisation (WHO) named the novel coronavirus "COVID-19". "Co" stands for "corona", "vi" for "virus" and "d" for "disease", while "19" was for the year, as the outbreak was first identified on December 31.