How Dangerous is the New Coronavirus?


New reports from the past months by the World Health Organization have linked a new deadly virus with countries in the Middle East. The new coronavirus has been confirmed for 17 cases during the course of 11 months, including 11 deaths. Scientists fear that the new NCoV may turn out to be more dangerous than SARS.

The 17th case of the SARS-like virus was confirmed by WHO on 26 March, when an Emirati man died from it in a German hospital. The first diagnosed, so-called NCoV was reported last fall in Britain when a Qatari man was infected after staying in Saudi Arabia, and since then, most cases have been in the Middle East or in patients who had recently traveled to the region. Although this strain of coronavirus isn’t so contagious as SARS or the common flu, WHO admits that its death rate is around 60 percent. So, is it deadlier than SARS and is it going to be an epidemic? Scientists are now arguing, but at least they can tell what exactly coronavirus is, and how we can possibly protect ourselves.

The coronavirus is a class of bugs that include the common cold virus, and the SARS which killed nearly 800 people in 2003. Its name comes from its physical appearance – globular center ringed by a corona of proteins. After the virus enters the body, it attacks the lower respiratory system and triggers very dangerous immune system reaction, called cytokine storm. In other words, the coronavirus tricks your immune system to attack your own body, and even when the virus is gone, your system continues to attack your cells.

How to recognize NCoV? It can be characterized with several symptoms – severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties, and rapid kidney failure. Its peak production is 48 hours after the infection and the immune response and the virus begin to attack the cells of the lungs and the kidneys. Acute respiratory infection, fever, coughs, or pneumonia are also common, so if they are combined with other risk factors such as geographic risk area (Arabian Peninsula) or physical contact with infected person, you should immediately see a doctor. Of course, specialists say that in order to be infected with NCoV, the patient has to be connected somehow with a person who is diagnosed with it.

In fact there is no evidence that the corona virus spread from human to human. Originating in bats, it can also infect different species including monkeys, pigs, civet cats and even rabbits. As a whole, it doesn’t appear to be highly infectious, but once it penetrates the body, it multiplies faster than SARS.

According to doctors, the same precautions that you normally take against a cold or the flu will protect you against NCoV as well. These include: avoiding contact with sick people, washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth in order to limit the spreading of germs.


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