Coronaviruses aren’t a new occurrence in the world; there are a number of them, some which only affect humans while others affect animals.
The coronavirus, now designated as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease that was first detected in Wuhan, China. Although news of the new virus, which affects the lungs in particular, wasn’t widely reported on until 2020, it started in 2019 hence COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation offers guidance on symptoms, prevention and treatment of coronaviruses and have compiled information on previous coronavirus outbreaks which applies the new virus sweeping throughout the world.
How did it start?
SARS was found to have been transferred from civet cats to humans while MERS came from camels; it is believed by the CDC that a large seafood live animal market in Wuhan may have been the root of COVID-19 transferring from humans to animals. From this point on, humans were able to spread the disease to one another.
This coronavirus outbreak is different from other coronaviruses which usually cause mild illnesses such as a cold while COVID-19 has more flu-like symptoms. Learn more about the symptoms here.
It appears that every person may experience COVID-19 different if they become infected; some have reported mild illnesses which they have recovered from while others have died as a result of the virus. Here's what you can do to protect yourself and others.
How did it spread?
Once humans became infected with COVID-19, it was possible for people to transfer it on to others. Respiratory droplets are how coronaviruses are commonly spread and it is believed this is the case for COVID-19.
Therefore it is likely that the virus can be spread by coughing or sneezing or by any unclean surface which may have been touched by those with the virus.
With more and more cases of people in Wuhan becoming infected with COVID-19, the city of Wuhan began to go into lockdown to try and isolate itself from the rest of the world.
The problem with that was that not people left Wuhan before the lockdown and not everyone was tested or isolated to have the all-clear before they left.
Many people may have carried the virus without showing any symptoms as they left and went back to another part of China or to a different country.
How far has it spread?
Italy was the first major country in Europe to have reports of COVID-19 cases which soon turned into an outbreak.
Before Italy could go into lockdown itself, tourists were visiting there and returning back home from holidays which has led to an outbreak across Europe.
The spread across Europe has caused lockdowns in Italy, Denmark and Norway while other countries such as Ireland have cancelled mass gatherings of people and closed down schools.
The virus has made its way to America with the USA now experiencing an outbreak.
How long will it last?
There is no clear way of knowing how long the outbreak may last before it is fully under control.
There are hopes that warm summer weather will help to weaken the strength of the virus while vaccines against the virus are still a long way away from being developed.
Therefore, it is important to understand how to prevent yourself from getting the virus or what to do if you have the virus or think you may have the virus. Click here to read if it's essential or not to wear a face mask in public.
Coronavirus advice & information
- Methods of ensuring COVID-19 hotspots have access to 70% Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitisers
- How is the coronavirus outbreak different from other coronaviruses?
- Common coronavirus questions answered
- The four-step stages of the UK's Government action plan
- Misconceptions about the coronavirus
- Help and guidance for business owners and employers
- More than 8,000 confirmed cases: latests stats and figures