What is COVID-19? What are the symptoms? Read all about COVID-19 here.
Narrator: In December 2019, there was a cluster of pneumonia cases investigated in China. Investigations found that it was caused by a previously unknown virus, now named the 2019 novel coronavirus.
In this video, we’ll take a quick look at what’s currently known about the virus.
Keep in mind that this is a new virus and what’s known about the virus now might change in the future.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses. They consist of a core of genetic material, surrounded by an envelope with protein spikes. This gives it the appearance of a crown. Crown in Latina is called corona and that’s how these viruses get their name.
There are different types of coronaviruses that cause respiratory and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms. Respiratory disease can range from the common cold to pneumonia, and in most people, the symptoms tend to be mild.
However, there are some times coronaviruses that can cause severe disease. These include the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, first identified in China in 2003, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
The 2019 novel coronavirus was first identified in China. It initially occurred in a group of people with pneumonia, associated with a seafood and live animal market in the city of Wuhan. The disease has since spread from those who were sick to others, including family members and healthcare staff.
There are many cases at present and the disease has spread within China and also to a number of other countries.
So, where did the virus come from?
It’s known that coronaviruses circulate in a number of animals. Sometimes these viruses can make the jump from animals to humans. This is called a spill-over, and could be due to a range of factors, such as mutations of a virus or increased contact between humans and animals. For example, MERS-CoV is known to be transmitted from camels and SARS-CoV from civet cats. The animal reservoir of the 2019 novel coronavirus is not known yet.
How is it transmitted?
The exact dynamics of how the virus is transmitted is yet to be determined. In general, respiratory viruses are usually transmitted through droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through something that has been contaminated with the virus.
People most at risk of infection from the novel coronavirus are those in close contact with animals, such as live animal markets workers and those who are caring for people infected, such as family members or healthcare workers.
So, how does the disease present?
Well, from what is known so far, there can be a number of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. There can be fever and respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, shortness of breath. In more serious cases, there’s been pneumonia, kidney failure and death. The mortality rate is not known yet.
How can we tell if someone is infected?
The infection can be diagnosed by a test called PCR – polymerase chain reaction. This test identifies the virus on its genetic fingerprint. There’s currently no specific medication for the virus and treatment is supportive care. There’s currently no vaccine to protect against the virus. Treatment and vaccines are in development.
End of transcript.
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