Everything you need to know about the new deadly disease

Elizabeth Kuffor, Managing Editor

What is coronavirus?

While many know coronavirus as a single new disease posing a threat to people around the world, the term “coronavirus” actually describes seven different viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory diseases. What you probably refer to as “coronavirus” is the newest strain of the virus, 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). It was first identified in Wuhan City, China, and has infected over 79,000 Chinese citizens since the initial outbreak. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2019-nCoV was likely to have originated in an animal, similar to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses, which are also in the coronavirus family. Many of the first 2019-nCoV patients were linked to a seafood and live animal market in China, suggesting an initial animal- to-person spread which evolved into person-to-person spread of the virus. Cases have since been confirmed in 32 other countries around the world, including Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Canada and the United States.


What is the United States doing about it?

The U.S. government has suspended entry of foreigners who have visited China in the last two weeks, and has implemented a 14-day quarantine for U.S. residents who are returning from China.


How does the virus affect those who have contracted it?

Documented symptoms of 2019- nCoV vary greatly among those infected. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure, and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases, death can result — 2,623 deaths have been recorded so far, 30 of which were outside of China


Should I be worried about contracting coronavirus?

Transfer of the disease from returned travelers to their close friends and family has been documented, but the spread of 2019-nCoV among the general American population has not been seen thus far. The CDC states on their website that “the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low at this time.”


How can I prevent it?

As of this time, there is no vaccine for 2019-nCoV, so the only surefire way to prevent contraction is to avoid exposure in the first place. The CDC recommends typical disease prevention tactics such as frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and disinfecting household and workplace objects.


Is the virus in Kansas?

Kansas health officials went into a state of frenzy Jan. 28, when a Lawrence, Kan., resident was suspected of having novel coronavirus. The patient, who had recently returned from Wuhan City, was admitted to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where he or she received treatment. The state health department sent specimens to the CDC, who confirmed the patient did not have the virus.


Has the virus affected Northwest?

The grandparents of junior Alden Norberg were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined after a passenger from Hong Kong was found to have coronavirus after disembarking from the ship. The ship was docked in Japan for two weeks, during which time no passengers or employees were allowed on or off. Norberg’s grandparents were found to have the virus, and are currently being treated in Tokyo. The quarantine has since been lifted, and Princess Cruises has begun the disembarking process for healthy passengers.