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What is a coronavirus?
coronaviruses are a group of viruses that belong to the coronaviridae family. They typically affect the respiratory tracts of birds and animals, including humans. Like other viruses, they require a host for them to survive, but end up destroying those host cells in the process. This is what makes them deadly and potentially fatal.
Where did it come from?
The first reported cases of the virus originated from the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, an area with more than 11 million people. Its Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was particularly instrumental in the spread of the virus, even though it is claimed that the first reported patient had had no prior contact to food from the market. Since then, there has been more than 84,000 cases across 56 countries.
How does it spread?
The virus spreads when bodily fluids from an infected individual comes into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth of a non-infected individual. This could be directly through physical contact with the infected individual or the droplets released when that individual sneezes or coughs, or indirectly through objects the infected individual had come into contact with. The virus can survive for up to 24 hours outside of a host.
What are its symptoms?
Since it attacks the respiratory tracts, the coronavirus causes several symptoms that are similar to those exhibited by those suffering from the common cold. These include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
How can we reduce the risk of it spreading?
There are several things you can do to avoid getting infected or helping the infection spread. These include:
- Washing your hands regularly and applying hand sanitizers
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you sneeze or cough, and properly disposing of this afterwards. If you don’t have a tissue, then consider using your elbow as opposed to your hand
- Wearing a face mask, but keeping in mind that it doesn’t offer 100% protection
- Properly disposing of any face masks after they have been worn for a considerable stretch of time
- Avoiding the sharing of food, utensil, cups or towels.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoiding close contact with people who are displaying symptoms
- Avoiding crowded places like public markets and malls, especially in the event of an outbreak
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