Coronavirus (CoV) is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from as simple as the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain belongs to the same family that has not been previously identified in humans.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are two highly transmissible and pathogenic viruses that were mainly found in animals as snakes and bats now emerged in humans at the beginning of the 21st century. Both viruses likely originated in bats, and genetically diverse coronaviruses that are related to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV were discovered in bats all over the world.
Coronaviruses can be transmitted between animals and people and hence are called zoonotic. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted to humans from civet cats and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not infected humans yet.
The common symptoms of virus infection include respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and can even lead to death. The incubation period of COVID-19 is thought to be between 1 and 14 days. It is contagious before symptoms appear and infected patients can be also asymptomatic, which means they do not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their systems.
Standard recommendations from CDC and WHO to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing or use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol composition when washing hands is not possible, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing as well as avoid social gatherings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the new coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, a global health emergency in December 2019. At least 3,300 people have died from the disease and there have been more than 100,000 confirmed cases worldwide and the number went to 45 in India till now.
According to many posts on social media is has singled out the Wuhan Institute of Virology for intense scrutiny because it has a laboratory at the highest security level—biosafety level 4—and its researchers study coronaviruses from bats, including the one that is closest to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Some believe that there is a possibility that the virus was bioengineered in the lab or that a lab worker was infected while handling a bat and then transmitted the disease to others outside the lab. Researchers from the institute have clarified that there is no link between the outbreak and their laboratory.
Authors of The Lancet statement note that scientists from several countries who have studied SARS-CoV-2 “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife,” just like many other viruses that have recently emerged in humans.
According to official figures in mainland China, at least 2,236 people died and at least 75,400 have been infected. The deaths of infected people have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, France, Taiwan, Iran, and South Korea.
Cases for coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Iran, Israel, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the US, and Vietnam.