coronavirus explained dw

The Coronavirus Explained



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The 2019 novel coronavirus is a global health emergency.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General: “We must all act together now to limit further spread.”

Since they began using the designation in 2005, the World Health Organization has declared global health emergencies only 5 times before.

The first case was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan on New Year’s Eve. Now over 30,000 people in at least 26 countries have contracted the coronavirus; the vast majority of
confirmed cases are in mainland China, where the numbers continue to skyrocket and where more than 600 people have died as a result.

Border closings, suspended flights, a citywide evacuation and quarantine — it’s scary stuff.

So what is it we’re really talking about when we talk about the coronavirus? And what can we do to protect ourselves?

Common signs of a corona virus infection include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure — and even death.

Corona viruses are a family of virus that caused the common cold and are named for the spike proteins on the surface that make it look like a crown or a star.

They are also zoone notic, meaning that they are transmitted between animals and people. While the exact source of this new corona virus is unknown, there’s pretty strong evidence that it originated from bats. Recent data confirms that bats Harbor a significantly higher proportion of zoonotic viruses than all other mammalian orders.

Still this doesn’t necessarily mean that patients in Wuhan ate a bat, as has been alleged or was even in contact with one. And that’s because the jump coronaviruses make from
bats to humans typically occurs through an intermediate animal. With SARS it was a cat-like mammal called a civet. With MERS, it was camels.

Coronaviruses like these are thought to be transmitted via respiratory droplets, contact with infected secretions and fecal matter.

So is wearing masks the answer? According to experts, “yes”, if you’re feeling unwell. The World Health Organization says they’re unnecessary usage can lead to a mask shortage for those who really need them.

During an outbreak masks can also offer a false sense of security, causing people to forget about the rest of the steps they need to take, which are actually pretty straightforward: wash your hands with soap and water frequently, even if they aren’t visibly dirty; and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or your arm, and not your clean hands.

This new strain of coronavirus isn’t necessarily a death sentence; people can and do recover from it. But being vigilant about hygiene can certainly help stop its spread


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1. Only China is concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. True or false?

2. Did the disease simultaneously appear in all parts of the country?

3. What has been the response by authorities?

4. Describe its symptoms. What happens if people contract it? Can it be lethal?

5. Is this an acute or infectious disease? Does it result from poor diet, stress and lack of exercise?

6. Has it spread rapidly? Is it contagious? How is it transmitted?

7. How can people protect themselves from the coronavirus?


A. I have had the common cold. Yes or no?

B. Do you know anyone who never or seldom gets ill? Do know people who often gets ill?

C. Why do people get sick? How can people cure themselves of the flu or cold?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. What should people and governments do?

F. Are there “conspiracy theories” behind the coronavirus epidemic?

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