Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as COVID-19, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
The number of cases in China continues to decline.
Yesterday, China reported 206 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, the lowest since the 22nd of January. Only 8 cases were reported outside Hubei province yesterday.
Outside China, a total of 8739 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to WHO from 61 countries, with 127 deaths.
In the last 24 hours, there were almost 9 times more cases reported outside China than inside China.
UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock today released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.
The announcement came as the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to "very high" – its top level of risk assessment. The WHO has said there is still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission is broken.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.