Coronavirus: What you need to know ...

Coronavirus: What you need to know ...
Soldiers in the military truck, spray disinfectant as a precaution against the COVID-19 on the street in Gwangju, South Korea. 

Q: What is a coronavirus?

A: It is a respiratory type of virus which infects the lungs.

Q: What is the name of the present coronavirus?

A: Covid-19.

Q: Anything else we know about coronaviruses?

A: They are a family of viruses which includes the common cold.

Q: Where did Covid-19 come from?

A: The present theory is that the virus originated from the sale of infected wilds animals including pangolins in a street market in Hubei province in China.

Q: Why are coronaviruses to be feared?

A: The concern is that respiratory problems can be dangerous for so-called vulnerable people, those with weak immune systems and other ailments.

Q: Anything else?

A: There is no vaccine against Covid-19.

Q: So what if there isn’t one?

A: It is all about the immune system; some people’s system will fight it off better than others.

Q: Why hasn’t there been a ready-made vaccine to combat it?

A: Because it is a newly-emerged type of virus.

Q: What are the early warning signs?

HSE National Director, Acute Operations Liam Woods, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan, and Director, National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian De Gascun, during a press conference at the Department of Health yesterday where they gave an update on on Ireland's preparedness for Covid-19. 
HSE National Director, Acute Operations Liam Woods, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan, and Director, National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian De Gascun, during a press conference at the Department of Health yesterday where they gave an update on on Ireland's preparedness for Covid-19. 

A: A fever, followed by a dry cough.

Q: Any other indicators?

A: A high temperature. That’s why in China officials are using infrared thermometers as seen on TV to check people’s temperatures.

Q: How close are scientists to developing a vaccine to treat Covid-19?

A: Scientists at a Chinese university say they have developed an oral vaccine, but it could be a year before it is cleared for use on humans.

Q: What of survival rates?

A: Some 14,376 Chinese who contracted it have recovered. Another 11,000 are in serious condition.

Q: Is Covid-19 a pandemic virus, that is a virus which has spread worldwide?

Not as of late February 2020, but scientists say there is no room for complacency. Countries should prepare their health services to cope with a worsening of the situation globally.

Q: Why is that?

Because of the rapidity with which it is spreading to other countries, including Japan, South Korea, Iran, and in Europe, as well as Italy and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. In all, 30 countries have reported cases. In Italy, the number of infections rose from six to 270 in just four days.

Q: How alarmed should people be?

A: The reassuring news, as of the end of February 2020, is that Covid-19 is regarded as being ‘moderately’ infectious.

Q: How is it spread?

A: As has been said by cough and sneezes. There are droplets in both, and if an infected person fails to use a hankie or some other blocking mechanism, such as their arm or sleeve, a nearby person is at risk of being infected.

Q: What else do we know of coughs and sneezes?

A: Bacteria in coughs and sneezes can stay alive in the air for up to 45 minutes. A flu virus can survive as droplets in the air for several hours, especially in low temperatures and dry conditions.

Handout photo taken with permission from the Instagram feed of @llkvk of a face mask and thermometer provided for people quarantined in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife.
Handout photo taken with permission from the Instagram feed of @llkvk of a face mask and thermometer provided for people quarantined in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife.

Q: How bad is the virus?

A: The Chinese are so worried about it that they have, in effect, quarantined 20m people in Hubei province, the place where the outbreak occurred. The population of Hubei is 58.5m people.

Q: Have there been other coronaviruses?

A: Yes. The condition known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) was also linked to a highly infectious coronavirus back in the early 2000s.

Q: What happened to Sars?

A: It has since been contained and can be treated.

Q: Is the coronavirus killing as many people as the flu does worldwide each year?

A: No. One billion people get the flu each year. Of this number, between 290,000 and 650,000 will die.

Q: How does this compare to Covid-19?

A: The World Health Organisation (WHO) say just over 76,000 have been affected worldwide.

Q: How does Covid-19 compare to the Spanish flu of 1918?

A: Around 50m died of the latter.

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