It’s the middle of January 2020, we’ve had a very wet winter so far, it seems to be becoming more common, while we’ve had no snow that often causes the most disruption, flooding has been all over the news. But there’s something else starting to appear regularly on TV news bulletins and in newspapers: Coronavirus.
A coronavirus is any virus which starts out in animals and is transferred to humans. This one began in a market in Wuhan province, China towards the end of last year. We’ve been seeing it on the news since January; lots of people being infected, lots of people dying, a new hospital built in just days, a whole city shut down, nobody can enter of leave. Britain flying in special airplanes to bring home Britains who are living or visiting Wuhan. They’re scared, and rightly so. Little is known about this new virus, it’s spreading fast across the country and killing people indiscriminately.
The World Health Organisation has named this new coronavirus Covid-19, which comes from COrona VIrus Disease 2019. It’s also been called Novel Coronavirus, where novel means new. This particular virus has never been seen before in the world, nothing is known about it, certainly not how to cure it.
The symptoms are a cough and/or high temperature. Most people only have mild symptoms, but in the most severe cases – usually in older people and those with underlying medical conditions – the virus can cause pneumonia. Pneumonia is where the walls of the lungs thicken as the virus covers them, this reduces the capacity for air but also makes inflating the lungs difficult, they become hard, like a board and makes breathing extremely difficult.