The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency over coronavirus that has killed at least 361 people in China following an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan.
More than 17,300 cases have been reported worldwide, most of them in China’s Hubei province. A man from Wuhan also died in the Philippines on February 2, becoming the first death outside of China.
The third novel coronavirus case has been reported in India, with another Keralite student who returned from Wuhan university on Monday testing positive for the infection.
What is coronavirus?
According to the WHO, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the image of the virus is reminiscent of a solar corona.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations from WHO?
WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
(Source: World health organization official website who.int)