The coronavirus (CoV) is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). It is a novel strain that has not been seen before, and the virus has killed at least six people and has left over 300 people affected in China.

According to the WHO, Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people, and several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.


The common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.


While the WHO has not recommended any restriction on travel or trade, it is best to be prepared in any event. In order to prevent the spread of infection, it is recommended that people wash their hands regularly, cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and to thoroughly cook meat and eggs before consumption. The other recommendation is to avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Countries have been encouraged to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies in line with the International Health Regulations (2005).

Coronaviruses primarily infect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of mammals and birds. Seven different currently known strains of coronaviruses infect humans. Coronaviruses are believed to cause a significant percentage of all common colds in human adults and children.