Coronavirus 101: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention


Have you heard about Coronavirus? Of course, you have. 

Hundreds of people have already died due to the outbreak of this virus. More than 300 people have died in China already. According to CNN, more than 17300 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection all over the world. Coronavirus has spread in more than 25 countries and territories.

More than 50 million people remain under lock down in different cities in China as almost every international research lab is trying to develop a vaccine and stop the spread of coronavirus. These groups of viruses have come as a curse to mankind.

In UAE, 5 and in the U.S. 11 confirmed cases of Coronavirus have been found till today.

Even in India, there are 3 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection! 

This virus usually causes some mild respiratory illnesses like flu and the common cold. But there are some rare forms of this virus such as SARS and MERS coronavirus which have already done some serious damage across different countries.

The SARS coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), had caused an outbreak during November 2002 and July 2003 in southern China, where more than 774 people had died in 17 countries. Whereas the MERS coronavirus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or Camel Flu) had caused more than 1200 deaths in 26 countries and now the Novel Coronavirus, 2019 nCoV, causing the current outbreak is lethal.

What is Coronavirus?

The name has been derived from the Latin word Corona that means crown or Halo (that is the characteristic appearance of the virus particles) and the virus resembles a royal crown.

Coronavirus is a type of Single-stranded RNA virus, whose genomic sizes range from 26-32 kilobases (largest for an RNA Virus). This enveloped virus (some viruses have a cover or envelope that protects their protein capsids) belongs to the genus Betacoronavirus under the virus family Coronaviridae, under the order Nidovirales.

Now, the type of coronavirus we are more concerned about today is novel coronavirus (2019- nCoV) informally named as Wuhan Coronavirus, which has been reported by Chinese authorities on January 1, 2020. This Wuhan coronavirus had not been identified previously and is a new member of the Coronavirus (Coronaviridae) family.

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Symptoms of Coronavirus

For a confirmed 2019-nCoV (Wuhan coronavirus) infection, sometimes people show little symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath or no symptoms at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms of coronavirus infection can appear 2-14 days after exposure.

For some people coronavirus has created symptoms like upper respiratory infections as runny nose, sore throat, fever or runny nose. You even won’t know if you have coronavirus or any other cold-causing virus. 

Now if coronavirus spreads to the lower respiratory tracts of your body like in your windpipe or lungs then it can cause pneumonia or even heart disease.

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Spreading of Coronavirus

Similar to other respiratory illnesses, Novel coronavirus also spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing that contains mucus, saliva or other droplets of body fluids. The droplets can come directly from people to other people or can even infect people who pick the droplets by touching the surface where the infected droplets are. Coronavirus can spread between passengers or via surface like plane-train-other public transport seats and armrests.

All groups of coronaviruses have proteins on their surface. They push these surface proteins on to the cells they are infecting. Though the longevity of survival of the coronavirus on surfaces is not known, in the case of most of the viruses, they can survive between a few hours to months.

According to Chinese health authorities, the incubation period of coronavirus can be from 1-14 days before the symptoms appear and it can be transmitted even before the symptoms appear in someone.

Spreading of coronavirus
Image Courtsey : NYTimes
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Can you be immune to the new Coronavirus?

Generally, this virus that spreads quickly comes with a lower mortality rate. Since coronavirus is an entirely new strain, there is no existing vaccine or immunity known to the medical world all over the globe.

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How can you protect yourself from Coronavirus?

As we know there are no vaccines to prevent coronavirus, the best way to prevent the infection from spreading is to avoid exposure to the virus. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), just taking a few preventive actions like hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and some safe food practices can inhibit the spreading of Coronavirus.

1. Wash your hands frequently with any alcohol-based soap and water or hand sanitizers.

2. Carry tissues and in case of coughing and sneezing, do not forget to cover your mouth and nose with it. Throw these tissues immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands.

3. Avoid close contact with someone who has a cough or fever.

4. Seek medical care if you have a cough and breathing difficulty with fever, and remember to share your travel history with the doctor.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouths frequently.

6. Avoid unprotected contact with any animals.

7. Avoid the consumption of any raw or under-cooked animal products. Remember to use different chopping boards and knives for cooked food and raw meats.

8. Wear protective gowns, gloves, and facial masks whenever you step outside and even while working especially in wet markets.

9. In case you have a fever or cough avoid traveling completely. If you become sick while traveling immediately seek medical care.

10. Do not spit in public.

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Treatment of Coronavirus

In the past 20 years, coronaviruses has caused three major outbreaks in humans, SARS in 2002, MERS in 2012 and the ongoing Wuhan Coronavirus which is spreading through China and all over the world.

There is no specific treatment that has been found for this coronavirus outbreak. There is a drug named ‘Remdesivir’ developed by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences was initially used to treat Ebola in 2014-2015 might be effective to treat coronavirus infections. But no regulatory bodies have been approved Remdesivir yet.

There are some other options also. In the case of the SARS outbreak back in 2003, the combination of two antiviral drugs (those were generally used to treat AIDS) ‘Lopinavir’ and ‘Ritonavir’ were used. These combinations are now being tested in patients suffering from coronavirus infections. 

To treat Wuhan coronavirus infection an antivirus is highly necessary, but scientists are trying to create a universal coronavirus vaccine.

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Countries and Territories with confirmed cases of Coronavirus

According to WHO, there are 14557 confirmed cases of coronavirus has been found globally.

Countries and Territories

Confirmed Cases



Hong Kong SAR


Macau SAR


Taipei SAR 








Republic of Korea




United States of America










United Arab Emirates










Russian Federation


United Kingdom




Sri Lanka










coronavirus world spread
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Steps taken by the countries to control Coronavirus

Coronavirus has taken the form of the epidemic now and almost all the countries are struggling to control the spreading of it. The CDC has declared a level 4 warning on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and asked travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. 

Countries are trying to seize and protect themselves from this Novel coronavirus outbreak. Almost every nation is isolating the suspected patients and monitoring their contacts. 

Americans flown home from China, will be “temporarily housed” on a special air base in California. Evacuated Australians from Wuhan will be quarantined on an island for at least 2 weeks.

Countries are also asking people to postpone their trip to China and banning every flight to and from mainland China. They are also closing the borders to the visitors who have been in China during the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak.

Though the WHO has said that limits on travel and trade are not necessary to control the spreading of coronavirus, many countries are still having travel restrictions on China.

Australia has declared to ban entry to anyone arriving from the mainland of China (except Australian citizens, residents and family members and aircrew). It also suspended any travel to mainland China.

Canada has asked its citizens to avoid any unnecessary travel to China.

Egypt has suspended every flight to and from China indefinitely.

Finland also canceled all flights between them and China from Feb 6 to Feb 29.

France asked its citizens not to go to China. Japan has taken the same path.

Indonesia also temporarily banned flights to and from mainland China for now.

India has declared a ban on persons with a Chinese passport and persons who reside in China and have an electronic Visa to India.

Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Netherlands, North and South Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Spain, UK, Vietnam, and many other countries have provided either a travel ban or temporarily closed their borders for Chinese citizens.

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Expert Speak on Coronavirus

Dr. Vibhu Kawatra in an exclusive conversation with Zotezo on the Coronavirus.

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Coronaviruses are Zoonotic (they can transmit between animals and humans). The most common signs of this infection include fever, cough, respiratory problems and other symptoms of the common flu.

Don’t panic if you are having any of these symptoms, just go to your healthcare provider and remember to share your travel details. Remember to wash your hand thoroughly, cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. And try to avoid close contact with any person with respiratory illness.

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