KEY POINTS

  • SARS-like virus, coronavirus spreads in China
  • The virus is contagious and has no treatment currently
  • Preventive measures must be taken to tackle the virus
  • Common signs include coughing and sneezing

A new strain of coronavirus known as novel coronavirus has already claimed six lives in China and close to 300 are infected by this Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the Emergency Committee meeting to ascertain if the recent outbreak of coronavirus is a public health emergency.

Here is what we know so far about this virus:

  1. Coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person: According to WHO, some coronaviruses are known to transfer from one person to another. The virus spreads after coming in close contact with an infected patient.
  2. It is a relatively new virus: This strain is quite new in the massive family of viruses that can cause diseases like SARS and the common cold. China has released a report containing the genome sequencing of this new virus with researchers across the world, Science Alert reported.
  3. There are no vaccines developed: As novel coronavirus is a new strain discovered, it will take time to develop a vaccine to tackle the infection. It might take years for researchers to develop the vaccine.
  4. Treatment for novel coronavirus: At this time, there is no specific treatment available for any infected. However, the symptoms can be dealt with and appropriate treatment can be provided taking into consideration the patient’s clinical condition. Also, supportive care can prove to be quite effective.
  5. Protection from novel coronavirus: It is important to maintain a high level of hand and respiratory hygiene. Also, maintain safe habits and avoid close contact with someone showing signs of coughing and sneezing.
  6. It is slightly different than SARS: The symptoms of this new virus appears to be less threatening than SARS. The experts believe that the death toll is comparatively low. “It's mild. The condition of the lung is not like SARS,” Zhong Nanshan, a scientist at the National Health Commission of China said at a press conference.

The novel coronavirus has already given rise to 41 pneumonia-like cases and one death in China The novel coronavirus has already given rise to 41 pneumonia-like cases and one death in China Photo: AFP / Noel Celis