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Coronavirus is a family of viruses that normally only affects animals. Some can also be transmitted from animals to people, causing respiratory problems that generally have mild symptoms.
Several coronaviruses cause respiratory infections that range from the common cold to more serious illnesses, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), identified in 2012, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which appeared for the first and only time in 2002.
SARS-CoV-2 is a new type of coronavirus that can affect people. It was first detected in December 2019, in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. In 80% of cases it produces only mild respiratory symptoms.
The virus is known as Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease that it causes is COVID-19.
The epidemic is evolving very quickly, but so is our knowledge of this virus. At the beginning of 2020 it was completely unknown, but the scientific community has managed to isolate it, sequence it, identify it and develop tests to diagnose it. As with any new epidemic, there are unknowns that will be resolved as the epidemic evolves and scientists gain a better understanding of the virus.
How is Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 transmitted?
By analogy with other infections caused by similar viruses, it seems that it is transmitted by:
Direct contact with respiratory secretions or droplets that are generated by the coughing or sneezing of a sick person. These secretions infect another person if they come in contact with the nose, eyes or mouth of that person. Therefore, when you cough it is important to cover your mouth with tissues or cough into the inside of your elbow, and wash your hands frequently.
Airborne transmission at a distance greater than one or two metres seems unlikely.
The incubation period is 5 to 7 days, but may be as long as 14 days.
Which sectors of the population are at higher risk?
People with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, lung disease, or immunity problems.