*This information is current as of January 30, 2020

Coronaviruses (CoV) refers to a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The 2019-nCoV, also known as the Wuhan Coronavirus is a novel or new coronavirus, that was first identified in humans in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

While not common, coronaviruses can be zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted between animals and people. This was the case with SARS-CoV, which was found to be transmitted from civet cats to humans, and MERS-CoV, which was found to be transmitted from dromedary camels to humans. While there is speculation that 2019-nCoV is also zoonotic, scientists are still unsure.

As of January 29, 2020, there are more than 6 000 confirmed cases worldwide and the virus has been reported in as many as 20 different countries. It is actually difficult to provide an accurate number since the numbers are constantly changing. Human-to-human transmission has also been confirmed.

Precautionary Measures

You can help prevent yourself from getting and spreading the Wuhan coronavirus–and other respiratory illnesses–by following these steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.


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