2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) | The Cold Facts

Published on: 06/02/2020

This new virus has been causing waves of panic across the globe. What exactly do you need to know about this virus to keep you and your loved ones safe?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is making the rounds globally. With the number of cases confirmed, as well as misinformation causing unfounded fears, it's hard to get people to calm down and look at the cold, hard facts. Today, we will be looking at whether this new strain is going to be the next SARS, or if it's something that we can easily circumvent with knowledge and caution.


What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from 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 (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV, had not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

It's different from influenza, but the symptoms are rather similar. It is because of the spikes around their "body" when looked at under a microscope. A "corona" (crown) of spikes gives it its namesake.

It is also a "zoonotic" virus, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and people. Much like SARS and MERS, one of the fears with this new strain from China is its potential to evolve. The new virus originating from Wuhan, China has also been shown to be 70% similar to SARS. 

However, the concern isn't the similarity, but the differences. While it causes the same symptoms that SARS does (basically a very bad flu with a high infection rate), the danger lies in that mysterious 30%. As of the writing of this article, there is no proven cure to this strain of the virus.


Symptoms:

Generally speaking, while there are several different strains under the coronavirus family, the symptoms are mostly the same.

  • Fever
  • Coughs
  • Breathing problems


Symptoms in very severe cases include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

Please remember that the severe symptoms only occur in extreme cases.


Don't Panic

Don't start boarding yourself up from society. While it's true that there is no proven cure yet, that's simply because it is extremely new. Furthermore, while the symptoms are definitely bad, current reports have stated that mortality rates are quite low in comparison to the extremely high infection rate. 

While deaths have occurred, it's mostly in areas where the infection is so high that people were simply not ready. In fact, even at the height of SARS,  only 10% of the infected actually died. Most of the deaths were older men with pre-existing conditions worsened by the coronavirus. The term "killer" isn't something you should associate with strains of coronavirus, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous. Most importantly, it's NOT spreadable through the eyes like some fake news sites have claimed.

Reports are currently very mixed about how dangerous the virus really is. Sadly, many news outlets, both official and tabloid, are spreading dangerous misinformation that is sowing fear among the populace.

In any case, the best thing to do right now is to prevent getting infected.


Safety Tips

  • Thoroughly wash your hands after you touch anything remotely dirty in public. Having a bottle of hand sanitizer is always handy, especially for long commutes.
  • Avoid crowded places, especially locations with a large population of potential infection. You can't control other people being careless, but you can definitely avoid them.
  • Wear a face mask outside. This reduces the chance of you being infected via air pollutants.
  • Avoid unnecessary prolonged contact with strangers, even for a handshake. Your hands may be clean thanks to your handy hand sanitizer, but you never know where others have been.
  • Strengthen your immune system. This can be done primarily through a healthy diet and multivitamin pills.
  • Thoroughly cook food. Since the coronavirus is zoonotic, it's important to kill any bacteria in food by cooking it thoroughly and properly. Better yet, buy meat and eggs from a sanitary and trusted seller.


While there is still no definitive proof that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) will reach SARS levels of danger, it's better to be safe than sorry. Do your part in staying hygienic, and trust in the advancements made by science to find a way to contain the virus.


For more information on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), visit the World Head Organization website at https://www.who.int/