Coronavirus: What you need to know

Thousands in China have it, just a few in the US

(Gray News) - As health officials and governments scramble to contain the outbreak, coronavirus is largely a mystery, but still a growing concern.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday after cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.

More than 8,200 cases have been confirmed globally, nearly all of them in China. Less than 200 cases are reported elsewhere.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is coronavirus?

It’s a family of viruses that can cause the common cold or more severe illnesses such as SARS and MERS.

What is 2019 novel coronavirus?

The current outbreak is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. It was first identified in Wuhan, China, by health officials.

How does this new coronavirus spread?

Although scientists believe it originated with animals, the virus now seems to be spreading from person to person. Most of the reported cases outside of China involved people who recently traveled there.

How can I protect myself?

There is only one known case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the United States. A woman who got sick after she returned from China passed it onto her husband.

But like any other respiratory illness, these practices will help keep you healthy:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

What are the symptoms of this virus?

Fever, cough and shortness of breath are common with coronavirus. In severe cases, patients have pneumonia in both lungs.

Is there a vaccine?

No.

Is there a treatment?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for coronavirus. Medical care can help relieve the symptoms.

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