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Novel coronavirus: Your questions, answered

the World Health Organization (WHO
population?Medical News Today
JAMA Network —
the National Institute of Allergy
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
the White House

Maria Van Kerkhove
Anthony Fauci
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


Middle East


Hong Kong
Saudi Arabia
the United States

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As a result, local authorities closed down the market on January 1.However, later assessments have since suggested that this market was unlikely to be the single source of the coronavirus outbreak, as some of the people infected with the virus had not been frequenting the market.Specialists have not yet been able to determine the true source of the virus or even confirm whether there was a single original reservoir.When MNT contacted the WHO for comment, their spokespeople emphasized:“We don’t yet know [what the specific source of SARS-CoV-2 was]. […] It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.”In an interview for the JAMA Network — also broadcast on February 6 — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that based on data that they have received from Chinese specialists, the new coronavirus’s “incubation period is probably between 5 and 6 — maybe closer to 5 — days.“That is, the virus likely takes about 5–6 days to give rise to symptoms once it has infected a person.Although the WHO note that experts estimate that the new virus’s incubation period may last anywhere between 1 and 14 days, they suggest in their coronavirus Q&A section that the most likely duration is about 5 days.Researchers from Chinese institutions were able to use state-of-the-art genome sequencing tools to identify the DNA structure of the novel coronavirus.It has emerged that SARS-CoV-2 is most similar to two bat coronaviruses known as bat-SL-CoVZC45 and bat-SL-CoVZXC21 — its genomic sequence is 88% the same as theirs.The same study shows that the new virus’s DNA is about 79% the same as that of the SARS coronavirus and approximately 50% like that of the MERS virus.Recently, a study by researchers in China suggested that pangolins may have been the initial propagators of SARS-CoV-2, as its genomic sequence appeared to be 99% like that of a coronavirus specific to these animals.Since then, however, other specialists have cast doubts over this idea, citing inconclusive evidence.Like previous coronaviruses, the novel coronavirus causes respiratory disease, and the symptoms affect respiratory health.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.“Current information suggests that the virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms, as well as more severe disease. Most patients seem to have mild disease, and about 20% appear to progress to more severe disease, including pneumonia, respiratory failure, and, in some cases, death,” WHO spokespeople told MNT.In their press briefing from February 27, WHO officials also pointed out that a runny nose is not usually a symptom of COVID-19.In an official WHO Q&A session, Dr. Van Kerkhove explained that as the symptoms of COVID-19 can be very generic, it can be difficult to distinguish between them and the symptoms of other respiratory infections.To understand exactly what a person is dealing with, she said, specialists test viral samples, checking to see whether the virus’s DNA structure matches that of SARS-CoV-2 or not.“When someone comes in with a respiratory disease, it’s very difficult — if not impossible — initially to determine what they’re infected with. Additionally, the CDC estimated that 151,700–575,400 people worldwide died from (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated,” the WHO spokespeople told MNT.According to recent assessments, SARS-CoV-2 seems to be more infectious than other coronaviruses — such as those that cause SARS and MERS — but less likely to lead to death.Some estimates suggest that the death rate of the new coronavirus is in the range of 2–3%, but there are no official numbers in this regard, as it is hard to tell how the outbreak will develop.The WHO reports that the two groups most at risk of experiencing severe illness due to a SARS-CoV-2 infection are older adults, defined as “over 60 years old”, and individuals who have other health conditions that compromise their immune system.The report also notes that “[t]he risk of severe disease gradually increases with age starting from around 40 years.”Other reports note that very few children have become infected with the new coronavirus. However, a recent preliminary study — not yet peer-reviewed or published in a journal — claims that children face the same risk of infection as adults.Among adults, some reports suggest that men might be more at risk than women.While there are currently no published scientific reports about the susceptibility of pregnant women, the CDC notes that: “Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.”The CDC also recommend that infants born to mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are placed in isolation as a “person under investigation.”The WHO reports that pregnant women with COVID-19 symptoms should receive priority access to diagnostic tests.Official WHO prevention guidelines suggest that to avoid infection with the coronavirus, individuals should apply the same best practices for personal hygiene that they would to keep any other virus at bay.This includes maintaining “at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.”According to the WHO spokespeople who replied to MNT queries:“Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering [the] mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, [and] thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

As said here by Maria Cohut Ph.D.