What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

So the whole family of coronaviruses is named coronavirus because corona means a crown, and so this refers to the way that the virus looks under the microscope like there's a crown on the top of the virus. Some of them, four or five different kinds, cause common diseases among humans, everything from the common cold to mild or moderate respiratory illnesses. Other kinds of coronaviruses affect animals, and sometimes, on rare occasions, we see coronaviruses jump from animal species into the human population.

What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) ?

The 2019 novel coronavirus is getting a lot of attention now because it is a new kind of coronavirus we haven't seen among humans before.

The theory is that it may have jumped from an animal species into the human population, and then begun spreading. We have seen some people that have died of this disease, and we know that there are already thousands of cases. So people are concerned because we don't yet know exactly how severe the disease will be or how far it will spread.

When a new virus emerges, we often have to learn much more about it and one of the things that we question is how does it transmit from person to person?

We know that most respiratory viruses are spread by large droplets that come out when people cough and sneeze, and stay aloft usually for about six feet in front of them. They land on surfaces, and then can also be transmitted between person to person by touching those surfaces, such as doorknobs or other surfaces.

Other viruses can spread in the air and stay aloft for a longer period of time In small droplet nuclei. For this current 2019 coronavirus, we're not yet sure Whether it is droplet or airborne transmission, so we're erring on the side of caution and taking protection as if it was spread by the airborne route.

We're still learning a lot about this 2019 novel coronavirus, to understand how dangerous it might be. Right now, the majority of the cases are in china. We know that some travelers have brought the virus to other countries, including the united states. I think one of the main things to keep in mind is that this is a respiratory virus season, and we have other respiratory viruses like influenza that we need to take precautions because we know we have thousands of cases and thousands of deaths in this country every year from influenza.

Given the ongoing transmission of the virus in China, we have a travel alert that was issued by the centers for disease control and prevention. So at this time, until we know more, avoid non-essential travel to China.

Johns Hopkins health system and health systems across the nation are busy right now preparing to safely identify, isolate, evaluate, and care for patients with the 2019 novel coronavirus. We have the capability of doing this safely By utilizing personal protective equipment, by implementing travel screenings so that we can quickly identify patients who have risk factors for the disease, And then implementing isolation precautions, the use of personal protective equipment, and other measures to make sure that we limit the spread of the virus.

At the Johns Hopkins hospital and throughout our health system, we routinely Care for patients infected with diseases that are spread by the airborne route, So we have the expertise to do this safely. When a new virus comes along that has unknown risks, we have extra measures that we can put in place, including the biocontainment unit that can advise us and put plans in place to safely care for these patients.

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