Health Page: Coronavirus Outbreak: FAQ Sheet

    Coronavirus Map. Source: NY Times

    Linda Li for New Pathway – Ukrainian News, Toronto.

    What are coronaviruses and what is the 2019 novel coronavirus?

    A “novel coronavirus” means that this a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified. Coronaviruses is a family of viruses that commonly infect humans and may cause mild respiratory illnesses, like the common cold. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new form of coronavirus that was identified to be the cause of a respiratory illness outbreak in Wuhan, China.

    What is the difference between the common cold, the flu and the novel coronavirus?

    What is the difference between 2019-nCoV and 2003 SARS?

    As mentioned above, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause a variety of respiratory illnesses including the common cold. The coronavirus that causes the 2019-nCoV infection is different from the coronavirus that caused SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003. There is some genetic data suggesting that the 2019-nCoV may have emerged from the virus that caused SARs, but more information is required before this statement can be confirmed.

    What is the death rate from the novel coronavirus?

    It is not possible to answer this question at the current time, because the outbreak is still occuring and there are likely unconfirmed cases, recoveries and deaths that we are not aware of. The majority of confirmed cases are located in the epicentre of the outbreak (Wuhan, China). So far, 60,000 cases have been confirmed and 1,400 deaths have been reported internationally. It is important to note that many individuals have also recovered.

    How is the virus transmitted?

    Coronaviruses may infect various animals, including humans. Sometimes, viruses may be transmitted from animals to humans, or from human to human. The novel coronavirus seems to be able to spread from person-to-person, but it is unclear how easily this virus can be transmitted between people.

    How should I protect myself and my loved ones?

    The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to avoid close contact with individuals who are sick (especially those with recent travel history to China), exercise frequent hand hygiene (soap and warm water is more effective than hand sanitizer alone), and cough/sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. The CDC and Health Canada do not recommend facemasks as routine protective personal equipment. Facemasks should only be used by individuals who are actively coughing and/or sneezing in order to protect those around them.