A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is not that same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
China’s Hubei province announced 242 new deaths from the novel coronavirus Thursday morning, twice as many as on the previous day. New infections there jumped by more than 14,000.
Global epidemic: The virus has killed more than 1,300 people and infected over 60,000 people worldwide. The vast majority of cases are in mainland China.
A total of 44 more cases have been confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan and that’s now 219 in total on board. A second cruise ship stranded at sea with over 2,000 people on board has been given permission to dock in Cambodia.
So, what do we know about this deadly virus and what should we know? Let’s look at some of the frequently asked questions and their answers.
Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Q: What is a novel coronavirus?
Answer: A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is not that same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a 2019-nCoV diagnosis. These are different viruses and patients with 2019-nCoV will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.
Q: What is the new name for Coronavirus as per WHO?
Answer: The UN health agency on Tuesday announced that “COVID-19” will be the official name of the deadly virus from China, saying the disease represented a “very grave threat” for the world but there was a “realistic chance” of stopping it.
Q: What is the source of 2019-nCoV?
Answer: Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Analysis of the genetic tree of this virus is ongoing to know the specific source of the virus. SARS, another coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civet cats, while MERS, another coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from camels.
Q: How does the virus spread?
Answer: This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
Q: Is 2019-nCoV the same as the MERS-CoV or SARS virus?
Answer: No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged 2019-nCoV is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). However, genetic analyses suggest this virus emerged from a virus related to SARS. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Q: How can I help protect myself?
Answer: There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Q: What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has 2019-nCoV?
Answer: There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection available online.
Q: Is it recommended to use the facemask in the community to prevent 2019-nCoV?
Answer: CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including 2019-nCoV. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have been exposed to 2019-nCoV and are showing symptoms of 2019 novel coronavirus. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.
Q: Should I be tested for 2019-nCoV?
Answer: If you develop a fever1 and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact2 with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for 2019-nCoV.
Q: Can a person test negative and later test positive for 2019-nCoV?
Answer: Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that 2019-nCoV was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.
For 2019-nCoV, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that 2019-nCoV is not causing their current illness.
Q: Am I at risk for novel coronavirus from a package or products shipping from China?
Answer: There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS and SARS).
2019-nCoV is more genetically related to SARS than MERS, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS and MERS, we can use the information from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States associated with imported goods.