What is a coronavirus?


Coronaviruses are common cold viruses. Only there are also special forms of it. For example, SARS and MERS are both diseases caused by a coronavirus.

Covid-19 can now also be added to that list. This is a recently unknown coronavirus that was transmitted from animals to humans in China in December 2019. The virus then mutated and became transmissible from person to person.

Why should we worry about this?

What makes Covid -19 different from, say, a flu, which also makes you sick? In one word: unpredictability. So much is unknown about the virus that dike control is the only option for now.

We are not sure how deadly the disease is. Because there are still seriously ill patients in the hospital, and because there are probably many patients with mild symptoms that are not in the statistics. The ‘cake’ of infected patients is then larger, so the percentage of deaths is smaller.

One problem is that people are not yet resistant to this new virus. Some estimates state that the disease can affect 40 to 70 percent of the population unimpeded. That would cause great mortality and completely disrupt public life.

Should we be concerned?

Panic is a bad advisor, but you can take a number of precautions to reduce the risk of infection.

• Wash hands regularly, not only after visiting the toilet

• Do not kiss or get too close to people

• Not going to work sick

• Sneeze or cough in your elbow if you don’t have a handkerchief

• Throw away paper tissues in which you sneeze or cough.

To be aware of the situation in your country follow the live statistics on Coronavirus


Do you belong to a risk group (people over 65, diabetics, persons with heart, lung or kidney diseases, children younger than 6 months, pregnant women, persons with a weakened immune system,…)? Then avoid big events.

Don’t: Enable grandparents for childcare. Older people are a risk group (see above), so you have to be extra careful to avoid infection. For that reason, visits to nursing homes and residential care centers have also been suspended.

For companies, the advice applies, among other things, to let employees telework, postpone meetings or organize video conferencing, and where possible extend flexible leave and flex hours.

Concert halls, restaurants and cafes close, sports events are suspended. If you have planned an event, be sure to check with the organization what will happen.

Do we really know how many people are infected?

No. Because not everyone is tested. Priority is given to people who are sick and who visit an infected region, or who came into contact with an officially infected person. However, because there are still so many unknowns, we will only know afterwards whether all concerns and measures are now justified.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

It starts about two days to even two weeks after the infection and it feels like a flu. A deep, persistent cough. Sore throat. Fever.

Rarer are headaches, diarrhea and coughing up blood and mucus. Accompanied by fatigue and listlessness.

More than eight in ten times, according to the provisional figures, it remains that way and the disease automatically recedes. The duration of this varies from person to person. Usually about five days, followed by a few more days in bed.

Sometimes it gets worse, especially in people over 60. They are increasingly feeling stuffy. More fever. Pneumonia. “ARDS”, “acute respiratory distress syndrome”, can occur, a serious complication in which the lungs fill with fluid and inflammatory waste.

What if you have symptoms?

Do not immediately go to the doctor if you have a flu feeling, the chance is still much higher that you have the flu. Then stay at home.

Anyone who recently traveled (or has a link to it) to China, Iran, Northern Italy, France or South Korea and who shows symptoms, should contact their GP. And preferably by telephone. This way you do not have to be in a waiting room and you avoid any further infections.

How deadly is the virus?

According to the latest counts, about 2 percent of patients die. But those numbers are still constantly changing.

With current mortality, the new disease would align with the 1918 Spanish Flu, which was fatal in about 1 to 2 percent of cases. For comparison, the “seasonal” flu kills approximately 0.1 percent of patients, the lung disease SARS is fatal in 9.6 percent of cases.


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