Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19 is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
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.
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular and thorough hand washing, covering mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing and sneezing (putting used tissues in the bin and washing hands afterwards), thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Stay off social activities such as going to restaurants, pubs, theatres and cinemas. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.