The coronavirus believed to have originated in Wuhan, China and now has infected at least 2,700 people and killed eighty-one. In addition to those within China, cases of the new virus have been reported in eleven other countries. Chinese authorities have responded to the outbreak by locking down Wuhan and other cities across the Hubei province, restricting the travel of more than 60 million people. International experts believe that the virus is at least partially spreading through human-to-human contact.
Health officials are dealing with a suspected case of coronavirus in Ivory Coast, the country’s health ministry has announced. An unnamed student, who returned to the West African country from Beijing on Saturday, is undergoing further tests after showing flu-like symptoms. If confirmed, it will be the first case of the deadly virus in Africa.
Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections. These viruses are zoonoses, which means they can infect certain animals and spread from one animal to another. A coronavirus can potentially spread to humans, particularly if certain mutations in the virus occur.
The symptoms can include a cough, possibly with a fever and shortness of breath. There are some early reports of non-respiratory symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Many people recover within a few days. However, some people — especially the very young, elderly, or people who have a weakened immune system — may develop a more serious infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
The new coronavirus can be transmitted between humans, according to Chinese health authorities. It is also adapting and mutating, which could make the virus spread faster and possibly more difficult to treat. It is not yet clear how infectious the virus is. Although many other coronaviruses are transmitted by coughing and sneezing, there are no indications so far that the virus is transmitted via the respiratory tract.
Viruses that can spread between humans and animals cause so-called zoonotic diseases. Such viruses may be transmitted when humans consume meat or animal products — or if such products were insufficiently heated or prepared in an unsanitary environment.
Unless you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the coronavirus — which right now, typically means a traveler from Wuhan, China who actually has the virus — you’re likely to be safe.
Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow.
Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
No unprotected contact with live wild or farm animals.
Build up your immune system by taking multivitamins and supplements daily.
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