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A Brief Introduction to the Coronavirus

What is Coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a single-stranded RNA virus with envelope and it has a diameter around 0.1μm. The virus spreads via droplets from such as cough, direct contact with infected person or contact of hands with contaminated environmental surfaces. So far, the below 6 types of coronaviruses are confirmed to infect humans. 1

  • Flu virus among humans: 4 types Human Coronavirus (HCoV):HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-HKU1
  • SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) – CoV
  • MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) –CoV



What is the feature of the 2019-nCoV, the novel coronavirus?

The 2019-nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus. The common symptom is fever and respiratory symptoms including cough and breathing difficulties. The viral infection also causes pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure for severe cases.2 The estimated incubation period is ranged from 2 to 11 days but it could be up to 14 days according to the previous other coronavirus experiences. Detailed information is not yet confirmed including the animal source of infection. Thus, it is recommended to stay focus on the reliable latest information such as WHO. 3

How can we protect ourselves from coronavirus?

WHO recommends below practices to prevent infectious disease transmission including coronavirus. 4 

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – immediately throw tissue away and wash hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Wash your hands with soap
Disinfect when needed
Wear a mask for extra protection

UPDATE: On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an official name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19.


  1. Infectious disease surveillance center (Japan), What is Coronavirus? (2020 / 1 / 10) (translated title)
  2. WHO (2020) Coronavirus. Accessed on 3rd Feb 2020. Available at
  3. WHO (2020) Q&A on coronaviruses. Accessed on 3rd Feb 2020. Available at
  4. WHO (2020) Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public. Accessed on 3rd Feb 2020. Available at

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