Understand: What is the coronavirus?

Symptoms of the virus are similar to the flu

When the virus is put under a microscope, it has little spikes coming out of the edges, like a sun’s corona.

SAN ANTONIO – More than 8,000 cases of the coronavirus has been confirmed in the mainland of China. More than 200 people there have died from it. What exactly is the coronavirus that has some health officials concerned?

The coronavirus is actually a family of viruses, including the MERS virus and the SARS virus. When the virus is put under a microscope, it has little spikes coming out of the edges, like a sun’s corona.

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But this new strain of the virus is one that hasn’t been recognized before.

Health officials believe that the virus likely started in animals before it was spread to humans.

With the outbreak centered in Wuhan, China, officials believe the animal to human transmission may have happened at a market where live animals are sold.

Its symptoms are similar to the flu. A minor case would leave someone with sneezing, coughing, fever and aches. More extreme cases are similar to pneumonia and could be fatal.

Although five cases have been confirmed in the United States, officials said residents are not in imminent danger.

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There are some preventative measures you can take to combat the likelihood of acquiring the disease, per the CDC:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

About the Authors:

Myra Arthur is passionate about San Antonio and sharing its stories. She graduated high school in the Alamo City and always wanted to anchor and report in her hometown. Myra anchors KSAT News at 6:00 p.m. and hosts and reports for the streaming show, KSAT Explains. She joined KSAT in 2012 after anchoring and reporting in Waco and Corpus Christi.

Valerie Gomez is lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. She began her career in 2014 and has been with KSAT since 2017. She helped create KSAT’s first digital-only newscast in 2018, and her work on KSAT Explains and various specials have earned her a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media and multiple Emmy nominations.