Coronavirus Facts: Transmission, Prevention And More

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a deadly virus causing pneumonia-like and respiratory illnesses in approximately 17 countries across the world. It originated from a particular meat or live animal sold at Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China, which is now on lockdown to prevent more such cases. As of Wednesday, Chinese officials have confirmed 7,711 cases of the virus, including 170 deaths. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 165 Americans are considered people under investigation (PUI) so far in the United States. Of the 165 PUIs, 68 tested negative and 92 are still pending investigation. On the downside, five positive cases of the novel strain of coronavirus have been found, as per data available on the agency’s website.

A chartered airplane helped evacuate American diplomats and citizens from the region, which landed in Alaska on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Passengers were screened before boarding the aircraft and during the layover in Alaska. After which, the plane landed in its intended final location at March Air Reserve Base in California. 

“Passengers not exhibiting symptoms of exposure, will be asked to stay on the base in housing to allow CDC medical officers to perform more thorough screening and to better understand each individual’s exposure,” a news release on the website reads. 

While the number of people coming from Wuhan to the United States has declined since the city’s closure, the agency has advised against essential traveling to the Hubei province in China. Travelers should otherwise be cautious when traveling to other parts of China by avoiding contact with sick people, especially the elderly,  as per the CDC. 

World Health Organization Speaks

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged all countries to be on high alert to detect cases and isolate those diagnosed with the virus to prevent a world epidemic.“The whole world needs to take action and be ready for any cases that come from the epicentre or other epicentre that becomes established,” Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of the WHO health emergencies program, said.

The organization admitted to its error in previously calling the global risk “moderate.’’ WHO’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, clarified that while the global risk from the outbreak was high, it does not indicate the declaration of a global emergency.

As the tally is on the rise, an emergency comittee was convened on Thursday to decide once again whether or not to delcare an emergency. The final decision was to delcare the eruption of the coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

Coronavirus The 2019-nCoV, a new type of coronavirus, was first discovered at a small animal and seafood market in the city of Wuhan in China. Pixabay

Origin And Transmission

Strains of the coronavirus have appeared before in the 21st century. The first coronavirus erupted in China in 2002 and 2003, which was called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).  Reports said that 2019-nCoV has surpassed the tally of SARS already. In 2012, the WHO estimated around 2,500 cases and 850 deaths of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) across the Middle Eastern countries.  

Both SARS and MERS originated from bats, while the former infected civet cats and the latter infected camels. The strains were then passed on to human beings. Similarly, the latest study, conducted by universities in Shandong Province, on the 2019-nCoV took genome sequences of nine patients and found them 99.98 percent identical to bats. 

Since bats were not sold in the seafood market, researchers are yet to determine which animal was the intermediate host between bats and humans. Furthermore, the CDC discovered one person-to-person transmission in the U.S. and officials believe it could spread inside hospital environments. 


Coughing, fever, fatigue, pneumonia, respiratory and other cardiovascular conditions are the main symptoms. The outbreak can be confusing at this time of the year in the flu season, hence distinguishing between the symptoms could be difficult. 

If the disease escalates, it could cause trouble with breathing, kidney and heart damage. Elderly and sick people are more prone to being infected by the virus. It can be hard to diagnose since the symptoms can show up two weeks later, as opposed to viral infections with symptoms appearing within just a few days. 


Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease announced in a press briefing that they are developing new tools to help detect the virus before it spreads. 

“Last week we mentioned CDC has developed a diagnostic test called a real-time reverse transcription preliminary chain reaction, that’s RRTPCR.  It can diagnose this new coronavirus in respiratory serum samples from clinical specimens. Last Friday we publicly posted the protocol for this test.  This is a blueprint to make the test,” Messonnier said. No antiviral treatment or vaccine is currently in existence. Doctors just respond to the symptoms. 


Avoiding all potential exposure to the virus is the best prevention method. Wash hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol content. If you are sick, you should stay home. Clean all areas, objects and surfaces that you frequently touch with a disinfectant. 

Cover your cough and sneeze with tissues that you must discard. Avoid close proximity to people having symptoms of the flu. Don’t touch your face without washing your hands first.