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Facts and figures about coronavirus disease outbreak: COVID-19
What is coronavirus?
How dangerous is coronavirus?
A pneumonia of unknown cause was first reported in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.
The cause of illness is a virus, now named novel coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, most of which are completely harmless to humans. Four types are known to cause colds, and two other rare types can cause severe lung infections.
This new virus presents particular dangers: there is no pre-immunity, no vaccine, and no specific treatment. The virus is highly contagious and spreads fast.
The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO on 30 January 2020 and has so far spread into 142 countries.
This new coronavirus targets cells in the lungs, and other cells in the respiratory system. Cells infected with the virus will produce more virus particles, which can then spread to other people, for instance by coughing.
Estimates are that 80 percent of people will only experience mild or moderate discomfort. Some people are even unaware they are infected and never develop symptoms.
15 percent will develop a severe form of the disease requiring hospitalization.
5 percent become critically ill and be admitted to an intensive care unit.
The main danger is that even the best healthcare systems may be overwhelmed by the large numbers of people who need to be hospitalized. Intensive care facilities are limited in number.
The coronavirus is more dangerous for elderly people and people suffering from other infections or medical conditions.
How is the coronavirus transmitted?
How can I prevent being infected?
Our knowledge of this new coronavirus is constantly evolving. The virus is highly contagious and can easily spread from person to person. People who have no symptoms, but are infected, appear to be able to infect others.
The coronavirus can be transmitted through small droplets, eg when a person is talking, coughing or sneezing. People can also catch the disease by toughing objects or surfaces that are contaminated by the virus, and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
It is recommended to keep more than an arms distance away from a person who is ill.
By protecting yourself, you protect others too. Simple things like washing your hands, coughing and sneezing in your elbow will go a long way.
Especially washing your hands often with soap and water will help. Make sure to use plenty of soap and pay attention to washing all parts of your hand. An alcohol-based gel is also a good option.
Social distancing is advised in most countries. Please carefully follow your government guidelines. Avoid crowded places, large gatherings and keep some distance between you and other people.
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