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Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is also known as Wuhan pneumonia or Wuhan coronavirus ('Novel' means newly discovered).
These viruses are zoonotic, which means they can only infect animals and spread from one animal to another. A coronavirus can spread to humans, if certain mutations occur in the virus.
In December of 2019, several cases of pneumonia like disease were reported in Wuhan city of China and on further research, the cause was traced to a new strain of coronavirus family (2019-nCoV) by WHO.
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus but much younger person, older people and people with some pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, appears to be more susceptible to become severely ill with the virus.
Coronaviruses usually spread through droplet infection containing large particles that can only be suspended in the air for three to six feet. Some coronaviruses can also be found in the stool of some individuals.
Most of the symptoms typically go away in a few days.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, it can cause pneumonia, especially in the very young or older people, people with diabetes, asthma, heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.
In more severe cases, infection can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, bronchitis, kidney failure and even death.