NEW DELHI: A new coronavirus has killed 25 people in China and infected more than 800, the Chinese government said on Friday, as the World Health Organisation declared it an emergency but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern.
China's National Health Commission said 830 cases had been confirmed so far and 25 people had died as of Thursday. Most of the cases are in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year.
So whats Coronavirus and how can it be prevented?
- What is Coronavirus
Coronavirus is an umbrella term for viruses that cause illness ranging from common cold to diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
- How is it transmitted
According to the WHO, CoV are zoonotic — meaning they are transmitted from animals to humans, though the 2019-nCoV, suspected to have spread from consumption of seafood, is now starting to spread from human to human as well. This can happen when an uninfected person comes into contact with the secretions of an infected person — such as via sneezing, handshake or cough. In fact, several such CoV are present among animals which haven't yet infected humans. FYI: MERS was said to have spread from camels to humans while the needle of suspicion for SARS rests on civet cats.
- What are the symptoms & Why is it 'novel'
As per WHO, "common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death." 2019-nCoV is a new strain of CoV, discovered in 2019 which is why it's written as 2019-nCoV. It's called novel since this strain has previously not been detected in humans. It was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China — which is why it's also called the Wuhan virus — and brought to WHO's notice on December 31, 2019 after cases of pneumonia caused by unknown reasons came to light.
- How deadly is it?
Yes, unfortunately. The death toll in China has climbed to 25 with confirmed cases rising sharply to 830, the Chinese health authorities said on Friday. The pneumonia situation had resulted in 25 deaths, including 24 in central China's Hubei province and one in north China's Hebei, the National Health Commission said. By Thursday, 830 confirmed cases of pneumonia, caused by the novel coronavirus, had been reported in 29 provincial-level regions in the country. A total of 1,072 suspected cases have been reported in 20 provincial-level regions, according to the National Health Commission.
- Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, right now there's no known cure or vaccine for the 2019-nCoV or for the other CoV. This means that prevention is the best option to reduce the risk of infection — which includes avoiding contact with people who are sick as also avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, in addition to frequently washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Has any Indian affected
Not yet. Twenty-five Indian students, of whom 20 are from Kerala, are trapped in Wuhan after the Chinese city of 11 million was locked down to contain the spread of a new strain of a coronavirus, while 14 students interning at a hospital in Yichang, about 300km from Wuhan, planned to fly to Kolkata from Kunming airport on Thursday night or Friday morning.
- Helplines for Indians in China
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