Since the outbreak of coronavirus in late December, there has been a lot of misinformation. So we’ve put together this short guide to covid-19, along with links to some key sources of information.
The official name for the disease is covid-19, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The CO stands for corona, VI for virus and D for disease. The outbreak was first reported in December 2019, so the 19 represents the year it emerged.
You may see it referred to as novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by the WHO and others. That’s what it was often called by health authorities before it was given it’s official name.
You can find more information and advice on the WHO website. If you’re living in or visiting the UK, please check the NHS guidance for information and guidance on the illness. Similarly, Gov.uk features up-to-date advice on travelling as well as the situation here in Britain.
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).
Covid-19 is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans, which is why it originally went by the broader title of coronavirus and had to be given an official name by the WHO.
"Over the past few weeks we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen that has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak, we must act together now to limit the spread. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with it”
Symptoms include coughing, a high temperature and shortness of breath according to the 2019-nCoV guidance by the NHS.
Based on the WHO’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. The risk to individuals however, remains low.
If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you’re advised to isolate yourself. Stay at home and avoid public spaces such as work and school.
We don’t know exactly how covid-19 is spread from person to person because it’s a new illness but similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
There are various things we can all do to prevent germs like coronavirus spreading:
Environmental cleaning in healthcare facilities or homes housing patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV infection should use disinfectants that are active against enveloped viruses.
There are many disinfectants, including commonly used hospital disinfectants, that are active against enveloped viruses. Currently WHO recommendations include the use of:
Sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent 5000ppm) for disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in homes or healthcare facilities such as Medipal's Chlorine Wipes.
Having first emerged in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the majority of infections so far have been in China. But the virus has spread to other parts of the world.
The countries with the highest risk are thought to be:
So far a limited number of cases have been reported in the UK. Even so, “the situation will get worse before it gets better,” according to health secretary Matt Hancock in his recent statement to parliament.
Leading academics are using AI and machine learning to look for signs the virus is taking hold in countries outside of China. A program by the Harvard Medical School is mining social media data for health trends that could relate to the symptoms of covid-19.
Meanwhile, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have created a covid-19 visualisation of the spread around the world based on official numbers and confirmed cases.
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