HEALTH authorities around the world are grappling with an outbreak of a new coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
At least 106 people have died in China and infected more than 4,520 globally, most of them in China.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
They circulate in animals and some can be transmitted between animals and humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
The new coronavirus has been named novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). It is the seventh coronavirus known to affect humans.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Common signs of infection include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and death.
The incubation period of the new coronavirus is thought to be between one and 14 days. The virus is contagious before symptoms appear.
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
China alerted WHO to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan on December 31.
The new coronavirus is thought to have originated in a seafood market, where wildlife was also sold illegally.
Scientists compared the genetic sequences of the new coronavirus with those of other known coronaviruses have suggested it likely originated in snakes.
SHOULD I WORRY? AND HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF?
WHO has acknowledged that the virus is an emergency in China but said on January 23 that it was too early to declare it a public health emergency of international concern.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency’s chief, travelled to Beijing to meet government and health officials.
People are being urged to follow local safety measures.
WHO recommends basic hand hygiene such as washing hands with soap and water, and making sure to cover your mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing.
Avoid unnecessary, unprotected contact with animals and be sure to thoroughly wash hands after contact.
Ensure meat consumed is cooked thoroughly.