Know More About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
By now, you’ve probably heard about a new, or novel, strain of coronavirus, originally known as novel coronavirus and now called COVID-19.
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected people from many countries around the world. There are lots of people talking about it: health organisations like us, governments, the media, people on social media, your family and friends.
When so many people are talking, it can be tricky to figure out what you need to pay attention to, and sometimes it is hard to understand the information you’re being told. We’ve gathered all the facts you should know about novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As this is a new virus and we are learning things about it all the time, we will make sure we keep this information up-to-date.
Why did the name change from novel coronavirus to COVID-19, and what is SARS-CoV-2?
When you look at them through a microscope, coronaviruses look kind of like a crown. Corona means crown in Latin, which is how coronaviruses got their name.
At first, we called this virus ‘novel coronavirus’, which means a new strain of coronavirus. Once scientists figured out exactly what this strain of coronavirus was and how to identify it in tests, they gave it a name: SARS-CoV-2.
When someone gets sick with this virus the illness is called COVID-19. For simplicity, a lot of people are calling the virus and the disease it causes the same name, COVID-19.
What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of virus in the coronavirus family that has not been previously identified. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was discovered in 2019 when a higher than normal number of people in Wuhan, China, started to get pneumonia after having an illness similar to the flu. When doctors tested them, they found these people had a type of coronavirus they hadn’t seen before. There were already lots of types of coronavirus in the world, but this one was new.
How is it possible to have a new virus that no one has had before?
Viruses are microscopic organisms that can enter a living host (like you) to live and multiply. Think of them like an unwanted guest that shows up unannounced, moves into your house, eats out of your fridge and begins to reproduce.
When a new virus makes its way into your body, your immune system realises that it’s not part of your normal bodily system, attacks it and tries to kill it. After that, it remembers the virus, so it can get rid of it straight away if it ever comes knocking again.
Just like any living creature, viruses change themselves to survive in their environment. Over time, they change in ways that makes it hard for our immune systems to recognise them. That’s how we end up with new versions of viruses, like this new version of coronavirus. Imagine your unwanted houseguest has come back, but with a wig and new glasses. Your immune system doesn’t recognise it, so it gets in the front door before your immune system realises it should fight it off.
What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus?
When you have a virus, it’s not actually the virus that makes you sick, but your immune system’s efforts to get rid of it. For example, your immune system can raise your body temperature and give you a fever, to make it hot enough to kill a virus. All the hard work your immune system is doing can also use up energy and make you feel tired.
Everyone’s body is different, and because symptoms are caused by your immune system and not the virus itself, different people can have slightly different symptoms when they have the same virus, and some people’s symptoms will be worse than others.
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness, which means it affects the parts of your body you use to breathe: your nose, throat and lungs. If you’re sick with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), your symptoms might include:
- SORE THROAT
- SHORTNESS of BREATH
How does novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread and how can I catch it?
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads between people, usually when a sick person coughs or sneezes.
You might catch novel coronavirus (COVID-19) if someone with the virus sneezes or coughs onto you. You could also catch the virus if they have coughed or sneezed onto a surface (like a door handle) that you touch, getting the droplets on your hands and then transferring them to your mouth, nose or eyes when you touch your face or eat.
How can I stop myself from getting it?
- WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY
Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills virus that may be on your hands.
- MAINTAIN DISTANCE
Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- AVOID TOUCHING EYES, NOSE AND MOUTH
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. Fom there, the virus can enter your body and can make your sick
- PRACTICE RESPIRATORY HYGIENE
This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Then dispose of the used tissue immediately since the droplets spread virus.
- SEEK MEDICAL CASE EARLY
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
- STAY INFORMED AND FOLLOW THE ADVICE
Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.