A New Virus Is In Town

Get out the old surgical mask, cause there’s a new virus in town — and it’s looking a lot like SARS. (You remember SARS, right? Also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the potentially lethal form of pneumonia came on the scene around 2003 and spread like wildfire around the globe. It was super scary. It killed approximately one tenth of the 8,000 people it infected.)

Yeah. So it was somewhat alarming back in September when the World Health Organisation (WHO) put out an “international alert” about a British man who had contracted a “virus previously unknown in humans.” Which turned out to belong to the same virus family as SARS. And is now spreading …

YIKES! They’re calling it novel coronavirus, a.k.a. NCoV, and the most recent infection brings the grand total of confirmed cases up to 12 worldwide (4 have been diagnosed in Britain). Also, it can spread from person to person in the same way as the flu, travelling through the year when someone sneezes or coughs. Okay … freak out time?!

Well, maybe not. Health officials have made a point of saying the risk to the general population is very low. But just in case, here’s what you need to know:

The symptoms of NCoV are very similar to those of SARS, including “severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.” But, like SARS, it IS treatable — so if you’re really sick, just do everybody a favor and go to the doctor. Better safe than sorry.


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