The virus you’ve recently heard being referred to as Novel Coronavirus is a new respiratory disease first discovered in Wuhan, China, toward the end of December 2019. Since its discovery, there have been confirmed cases of the virus spreading to Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Nepal, the United States, France, and Australia. As of Wednesday morning (January 29, 2020), there have been close to 6,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in China. Out of those confirmed cases, 132 deaths have occurred because of the disease, according to The New York Times.

Characteristics of the Novel Coronavirus

There are seven different types of coronavirus that have been discovered over the years since the mid-1960s, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A coronavirus you might be familiar with is SARS (also known as SARS-CoV). The Novel Coronavirus that was discovered is known as the 2019-nCoV. People around the world typically get infected with four of the more common out of the seven. On occasion, coronavirus will affect animals and evolve, causing a new strand to be created. That brings us to today, where its expected this exact scenario is what caused the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The first cases of the disease that appeared in Wuhan, China, were predominantly from people that had recent interactions with large seafood or animal markets.

This suggests that the Novel Coronavirus was first transmitted to humans via animals. Newer cases of people infected with this virus have been mostly people who haven’t interacted with large food markets, which would suggest that the Novel Coronavirus is now spreading from person to person. People who have been infected with the disease have displayed a wide range of symptoms: from showing little to no symptoms to being severely ill and on the brink of death.

However, the most common symptoms displayed by people infected with Novel Coronavirus have been fever, cough, and shortness of breath. According to the CDC, the most common way a coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs, similar to how other respiratory pathogens Travel.

This typically happens through close-contact interactions.

Current global situation

Most of the confirmed cases of the virus have been in the Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located. As mentioned before, the Novel Coronavirus has spread to numerous other countries already. Most cases remain on the continent of Asia, but there have been a handful of confirmed cases that have appeared overseas. As reported by The New York Times, there have been 14 reported in Thailand, eight in Hong Kong, seven in Japan, five in the United States, and five in Australia.

There are even more cases in other countries; however, the only reported deaths have been in China. Some countries are now starting to take steps to deter the spread of Novel Coronavirus, while others have not yet begun to. USA Today reported that in the United States, for example, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that 20 airports within the country would start screening efforts for those infected with the virus. The United States Vice President, Mike Pence, stated that these 20 airports cover 90 percent of people arriving from China.

Precautions you should take moving forward

To start, do what you would do when trying to avoid being infected by any virus: wash your hands, wear a facemask, and avoid close contact with those who are displaying any typical signs of sickness.

Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face is perhaps the easiest preventive measure you can take. Also, try to carry around hand sanitizer when you are in public places. Be sure to use it if you come into contact with something several other people may have touched, such as restroom doorknobs, elevator buttons, the railing on a stairway, or even the knob on the water cooler in your office. If you feel so inclined to, wear a three-ply face mask when around other people.

The Novel Coronavirus can be contagious before an infected person even begins to show symptoms according to an article published by the BBC. To that end, wearing a facemask in crowded public areas would be advised. Of course, people infected with Novel Coronavirus will eventually start to show symptoms.

If possible, stay clear of someone who is coughing or sneezing frequently. Even if they don’t have Novel Coronavirus, chances are they might have another sickness that you won’t want to be exposed to. As they say, “you can never be too careful.”