Coronavirus: what is known about the new type of virus

As of March 2020, SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus, has killed nearly 2,900 people. Although it started in China, the virus has spread and is found in many other regions, such as France, Italy, Iran, the United States, Argentina, Spain and Brazil.

About 60% of the affected countries still suffer from imported cases, that is, people who have traveled to regions with detected cases and contracted the infection there, outside their respective countries.

Here in Brazil, the identification of the virus genomes allowed the difference between the two cases analyzed, identified at the end of February, to be observed.

The first was more genetically similar to sequencing in Germany while the second is more like the case of England. This suggests that there is an internal transmission in European countries.

Learn more about the coronavirus:


What are coronaviruses?

According to the Ministry of Health, the coronavirus is a viral family capable of infecting humans and animals. Until then, 6 types of viruses in this family were known to affect humans, but now, with the recent cases of pneumonia initially detected in Wuhan, China, there are 7 known types.

This new virus is being called 2019-nCoV and was first identified on December 19, 2019.

When it invades the body, infectious agents compromise the airways, so it can vary from mild to moderate. That is, the symptoms resemble those of the flu or colds, but which, in some cases, may be more intense.

In general, the conditions in which the infection presents itself in an aggravated way are associated with weaknesses of the immune system, that is, older people or other diseases that compromise the body’s defenses.

The virus circulates among animals and, it is believed, the initial transmission was after contact with an infected animal. However, the Ministry of Health warns that the infectious agent has acquired the ability to be transmitted between people. This increases the transmissibility and the severity of the situation.

The route of transmission of 2019-nCoV is by air, by coughing or sneezing, touching or contacting infected persons, or even contact with infected objects or surfaces. Treatment consists of symptom control, but there is no specific medication.

Not so long ago, two epidemics caused also by viruses of the coronavirus group were responsible for deaths and concern.

In 2004 and 2012, SARS-CoV (which causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS) and MERS-CoV (which causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS), respectively, were detected in circulation.

What are the symptoms of the infection?

In general, the symptoms are very similar to those of the common cold or flu , as soon as the virus causes infections in the respiratory tract. The condition is usually mild or moderate, having a short duration.

That is, the infection is limited and runny nose, sore throat , fever and malaise can occur . In general, the body can recover without major problems.

However, in some cases that the person has immune compromise, cardiopulmonary diseases or is elderly, the infection can result in lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory or cause renal failure.

The symptoms are more intense and can involve high fever, cough, difficulty breathing and even lung injuries.

How is 2019-nCoV transmitted?

It is believed that, initially, the virus reached humans through contact with infected animals. Now, the agent has acquired the ability to transmit himself between people. Thus, contagion can occur through the air, by coughing or sneezing, by direct contact with the infected person or even with contaminated surfaces.

How is coronavirus diagnosed?

Suspicions are raised from the manifestation of symptoms. Therefore, the diagnosis is basically clinical, according to the Ministry of Health.

People with suspected infection are then evaluated by health professionals, who request serological tests capable of detecting the presence of the agent and the type of virus in nasal secretions, blood or feces.

Do you have treatment for the virus?

There is no specific drug treatment to combat coronaviruses. Thus, after diagnosis, therapies are to control or alleviate symptoms.

In general, it is recommended to reinforce hydration, rest and, in case of pain and fever, use analgesic and antipyretic medications under medical prescription.

Care: how to prevent contagion?

Prevention guidelines are those that are common for other diseases and infections. In general, avoiding crowding, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing, not sharing personal items and hand hygiene are essential.

Ventilating the sites well and not scratching mucous membranes or putting your hands in your mouth are valid measures too.

If there is a suspicion of contamination or contact with someone who is sick, it is important to keep your attention and look for a health unit so that the necessary measures can be taken.

To find out more information and updates on infections and also how to prevent yourself, keep following the Healthy Minute!