Coronavirus (2019 n-CoV)
CoronaVirus Tips and Prevention

2019 n-CoV

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus from how it started to protect yourself can be found below.

What are Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a family of enveloped virus that was first discovered in the 1960s. Coronaviruses are most commonly found in animals, including camels and bats, and are not typically transmitted between animals and humans. However six strains of coronavirus were previously known to be capable of transmission from animals to humans, the most well-known being Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) CoV, responsible for a large outbreak in 2003, and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) CoV, responsible for an outbreak in 2012.2 The latest strain, known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCov, is the seventh strain now known to have been transmitted from animals to humans at an animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China. The growing number of patients who have not had exposure to animal markets suggest that person-to-person transmission is occurring.


Every year an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 people die in the world due to complications from seasonal influenza (flu) viruses. This figure corresponds to 795 to 1,781 deaths per day due to the seasonal flu. SARS (Nov. 2002 - Jul. 2003): was a coronavirus that originated from Beijing, China, spread to 29 countries, with 8,096 people infected and 774 deaths (with a fatality rate of 9.6%). Considering that SARS ended up infecting 5,237 people in mainland China, Wuhan Coronavirus surpassed SARS on January 29, 2020, when Chinese offcials confirmed 5,974 cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). One day later, on January 30, 2020 the novel coronavirus cases surpassed even the 8,096 cases worldwide representing the final SARS count in 2003. MERS (2012) killed 858 people out of the 2,494 infected (with a fatality rate of 34.4%).

*Updated as of 2/4/2020. To see live updates Click Here
n-CoV SARS MERS Seasonal Flu
Cases 20,704* 8,096 2,494 3-5 mil
Deaths 427 774 858 468k avg.
Fatality Rate 2% 9.6% 34.4% 0.1%

How contagious is the Wuhan Coronavirus?

The attack rate or transmissibility (how rapidly the disease spreads) of a virus is indicated by its reproductive number (Ro, pronounced R-nought or r-zero), which represents the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person.

A more recent study is indicating a Ro as high as 4.08.[9]. This value substantially exceeds WHO's estimate (made on Jan. 23) of between 1.4 and 2.5[6] and is also higher than recent estimates between 3.6 and 4.0, and between 2.24 to 3.58 [10]. Preliminary studies had estimated Ro to be between 1.5 and 3.5 [2][3][4]

Based on these numbers, on average every case of the Novel Coronavirus would create 3 to 4 new cases.

An outbreak with a reproductive number of below 1 will gradually disappear.

For comparison, the Ro for the common flu is 1.3 and for SARS it was 2.0.

Rate of transmission

  • n-Cov
  • SARS
  • Flu

How it is spread

A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. Coronaviruses are typically spread through the air via coughing or sneezing, via contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces, and sometimes, but rarely, via fecal contamination. 2019-nCov is thought to have originally spread from animals to humans, but there is growing evidence of person-to-person transmission. This pattern of transmission was also reported with SARS CoV and MERS CoV.

Symptoms and diagnosis of human infection

Human coronavirus usually causes mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Symptoms often include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Most people contract the illness at some point in their lives and it usually only lasts for a short time. Sometimes human coronaviruses can cause lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in infants, the elderly, or individuals with weakened immune systems. In some serious cases, such as with 2019-nCoV, the virus can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, pneumonia, kidney failure, and death.

CDC control, measures, and prevention for n-CoV and the Flu

The CDC provides useful guidance and resources for coronavirus and 2019-nCoV infection control measures. These should all be implemented when patients are suspected of being infected with a coronavirus. There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Coronavirus:
    • Hand hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Avoid contact with infected individuals, as possible.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects with an EPA-registered disinfectant.
    • For 2019-nCov, the CDC also recommends a mask for confirmed or suspected individuals, eye protection for healthcare workers, and implementing both contact and airborne precautions in addition to standard precautions.
  • Seasonal Flu in School:
    • Encourage students, parents, and staff to get a yearly flu vaccine.
    • Encourage students, parents, and staff to take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
    • Educate students, parents, and staff on what to do if someone gets sick.
    • Establish relationships with state and local public health offcials for ongoing communication.

Why are human coronaviruses and particularly n-CoV a concern?

Most people get infected with a human coronavirus at some point in their lives and experience cold-like symptoms for a few days before recovering. However, novel coronaviruses—such as MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and 2019-nCoV cause severe symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath that can lead to pneumonia and even death. These coronaviruses can quickly spread from person to person and can lead to widespread outbreaks when infected individuals travel to different countries. As with most emerging viruses, the risk depends on a number of factors including ease of transmission, severity of symptoms and prevention and treatment options available. In the case of nCoV, there is neither a vaccine nor specific treatment.

  1. Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation reports - World Health Organization (WHO)
  2. Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV: early estimation of epidemiological parameters and epidemic prediction - Jonathan M. Read et al, Jan. 23,2020.
  3. Early Transmissibility Assessment of a Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan, China - Maimuna Majumder and Kenneth D. Mandl, Harvard University - Computational Health Informatics Program - Posted: 24 Jan 2020 Last revised: 27 Jan 2020
  4. Report 3: Transmissibility of 2019-nCoV - 25 January 2020 - Imperial College London
  5. Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) - CDC
  6. Statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) - WHO, January 23, 2020
  7. Who: "Live from Geneva on the new #coronavirus outbreak"
  8. Updated understanding of the outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019nCoV) in Wuhan, China - Journal of Medical Virology, Jan. 29, 2020
  9. Estimating the effective reproduction number of the 2019-nCoV in China - Zhidong Cao et al., Jan. 29, 2020
  10. Preliminary estimation of the basic reproduction number of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China, from 2019 to 2020: A data-driven analysis in the early phase of the outbreak - Jan. 30, 2020
  11. CDC. 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.
  12. Accessed January 21, 2020