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Here’s why the novel coronavirus is spreading like wildfire and creating mass panic

With upto 25% new cases being reported each day, the novel coronavirus is primed to be one of the most dangerous viruses in recent times

The new strain of coronavirus, which is similar to SARS and MERS, was first seen in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. Thousands have been infected by the virus since then with three confirmed cases reported from India too.

The World Health Organization has already declared it to be a public health emergency. WHO said the situation is “serious, unusual or unexpected” and carries implications for public health beyond the affected state’s national border.

But how deadly is this novel coronavirus?
According to a United Nations (UN) report, 361 people had died from the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) till February 3, which is about two percent of the cases recorded. This is in sharp contrast to the 25% of MERS cases where the patients died from the disease.

UN has, however, said it is still too early to determine how deadly the virus is and how the cases may evolve with time.

Cases of coronavirus are showing a 25% rise every day, hinting that the virus transmits to humans far too easily as compared to other known diseases. And if news reports are to be believed, as of today, over 80,000 people have been infected by novel coronavirus and more than 560 have died. 

The danger not only lies in the fact that the virus transmits easily, but also that the disease is new and relevant information such as incubation period, ways in which it can spread, and how to stop it from spreading is not known.

A Lancet study claims that each person who was infected with the virus, could have easily infected two to three individuals on an average, thus making the possibility of the rapid spread of the disease very real.

Why is this new strain different?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are found both in animals and humans. Severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SERS) have been caused by coronavirus. The novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been identified in humans ever before.

Much like other respiratory illnesses, the novel coronavirus causes mild symptoms, including runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It could be more severe for some and lead to pneumonia and turn fatal. The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions like, diabetes and heart disease, are more prone to the disease.

The fact that the virus has spread so rapidly makes it one of the most deadly diseases ever.

Here are some precautionary measures you can take to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus

  • Avoid direct contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
  • Wash hands frequently after contact with sick people
  • Avoid direct contact with farm or wild animals
  • Avoid being in congested areas with large crowd
  • Wear an N95 when outdoors to reduce your risk
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