Coronavirus outbreak: Everything we DON’T know about deadly virus

Coronavirus has pulled focus from many of the world’s problems early this year, as the deadly disease spread globally. Health officials have been able to prevent cases ballooning worldwide, but are yet to acquire a full understanding of the virus.

What don’t we know about the coronavirus?

The infection which bred in China last year is known as a “novel” coronavirus, meaning it is a totally new virus from one specific family.

Infections initially blindsided officials in China, which allowed it to spread to other countries under the radar.

Researchers have named the virus 2019-nCoV, but despite its months-long world tour, they know very little about it.

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Where the virus came from

The origin point of 2019-nCoV is still subject to debate.

Researchers agree it came from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where authorities recorded the most cases, a total of 16,678.

There, the virus likely crossed the species barrier from bats, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Fatality rates

Coronavirus fatality rates differ depending on the affected region.

Chinese authorities estimate a fatality rate of two percent overall, but in Hubei, where it originated, it is much higher at 4.9 percent.

Eliminating Hubei from the equation brings the rate down to roughly 0.16 percent, and an overall fatality rate will likely emerge some time after the outbreak has ended.

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Transmission

Experts have confirmed the virus can spread via aerosol, meaning people can acquire it from other people’s sneezes or coughs.

However, they are unsure as to whether this resulted from a mutation or it had been able to do so all along.

People have noted the virus has spread slowly outside of China, so some scientists theorise it may require close contact to spread.

Face masks

The most enduring image of the latest, and any, virus outbreak is of people wearing protective face masks.

Only some of these are effective, as surgical masks used by doctors provide limited protection from small particulates.

The masks are only useful for those who are already sick, as they prevent the virus from spreading further via coughs and sneezes.

People who want to use the masks to remain infection-free should use filtered n95 masks, according to experts.

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