Virus behind COVID-19 outbreak is familiar to scientists

Image copyright iStockphoto Six people have died in Quebec, Canada, from the very rare infection COVID-19 – a strain of the bacteria responsible for an outbreak in Sydney, Australia, which so far has been…

Virus behind COVID-19 outbreak is familiar to scientists

Image copyright iStockphoto

Six people have died in Quebec, Canada, from the very rare infection COVID-19 – a strain of the bacteria responsible for an outbreak in Sydney, Australia, which so far has been linked to 29 deaths there.

The strain of coronavirus comes from the same family as the common cold.

Quebec reported 567 new cases last week, bringing the total up to 2,592 since the outbreak began in September 2017.

The province’s chief public health officer says the source of the outbreak is continuing to be investigated.

Here are some of the facts about COVID-19:

What causes COVID-19?

The coronavirus – the same group of viruses behind the recently-discovered coronavirus after the outbreak in Australia – is from the same family as the common cold.

The bacteria, however, are very rare in humans and are currently only seen in animals such as bats, cattle, pigs and sheep.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that COVID-19 infects animals but not humans, in that the bacterium is killed by heat, as in normal cold viruses.

COVID-19 is highly infectious, and the infection is often so severe that the illness can be fatal – in some cases leading to brain damage.

What are the symptoms?

Fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, chest pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and sore throat are just some of the symptoms that sufferers of COVID-19 develop after getting infected with the bug.

The worst cases can even lead to damage to the central nervous system, dementia, vision problems, permanent muscle weakness and damage to the heart.

During a probable COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing in 2007, 122 people, including 42 children, were infected, with 39 of them dying. More than 90% of the illnesses in that outbreak were of the type of COVID-19.

New cases of COVID-19 – which refers to those who have survived getting the infection – will likely emerge in the coming months, health officials have warned.

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