Health authorities are closely watching an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus known as COVID-19.

What is the virus?
Scientists have identified the virus as a publication, or brand new, coronavirus. The title comes from the Latin word for crowns or halos, which coronaviruses resemble under a microscope. The coronavirus family has lots of breeds that affect people. Some cause the common cold, while some originating in bats, camels and other animals have evolved to more severe illnesses like SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome — or MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome

Where did it come from?
Many of the first people infected had worked or visited at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, which has since been shut for an investigation. Chinese health officials say that they think the illness first spread from animals to people.

How prevalent is it?
Over 178 million instances of COVID-19 have been confirmed around the world, based on Johns Hopkins University. The huge bulk of the early cases were in China — where the speed of new cases has slowed drastically — and Brazil, India and the United States have since become hotspots. In the USA, which has got the biggest reported outbreak of any nation, more than 33.5 million cases have been confirmed.

How deadly is it?
Over 3.8 million people have died from the virus, making the mortality rate roughly 2.2% one of confirmed cases. In contrast, the mortality rate for your seasonal influenza is usually about 0.1%. Pros state inconsistencies in reporting cases have made it difficult to precisely ascertain the mortality rate. In addition, in some areas, only the most critical patients have been tested at the onset of the pandemic, and many people with mild or no symptoms may never be tested. Experts have said the virus’ true mortality rate may be closer to 1 percent.

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What are the symptoms?

In serious situations, the virus may cause pneumonia. The virus and the flu have similar symptoms and transmission procedures, so they can be difficult to tell apart.

How can it be treated?
Scientists have found evidence that some remedies can help patients with coronavirus symptoms. One of these are the antiviral drug remdesivir, the anti inflammatory drug dexamethasone and convalescent plasma from recovered patients.