- What's coronavirus?
The virus is common throughout the world, infecting both humans and animals. Before the emergence of the newest strain in Wuhan, Hubei province, six strains of coronavirus were known to affect humans, with four of them causing mild respiratory symptoms akin to common colds. The other two strains, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), are potentially lethal, having together killed about 1,600 people worldwide.
- Is the new strain discovered in Wuhan linked to SARS or MERS?
They all come from the same large family of coronaviruses, but the new strain belongs to a different subgroup. It also demonstrates marked differences in genome sequence from the SARS and MERS-related viruses and appears to be less deadly. However, scientists are cautious of possible mutations of the new strain that could raise the level of risk.
- What are the symptoms of the new strain?
Most patients experience mild symptoms including fever, fatigue, a dry cough and difficulty breathing. They can fully recover with effective treatment. In some cases, patients suffer severe respiratory failure, extremely low blood pressure and other life-threatening conditions.
- How to protect yourself against the new coronavirus?
Due to a lack of knowledge of the new strain, the World Health Organization has so far suggested general protective measures targeting other regular respiratory infections, including avoiding contact with people infected with respiratory illnesses, washing hands regularly and refraining from touching livestock or wild animals. Medical institutions should step up protection and control measures in their emergency.
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