Covid-19 is getting wide attention and has been categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic, which is defined as a disease outbreak occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population. People following the news about SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, might think coronaviruses are a new disease. But the truth is that doctors first identified coronaviruses in the 1960s, and there are now seven known coronaviruses.
Though these coronaviruses vary in severity, all have the potential to cause respiratory illness. Some cause illnesses as simple as the common cold, while others are more serious, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a deadly disease that sickened more than 8,000 people and caused almost 800 deaths before it was contained in 2003.
There are no cures for coronaviruses. So, as is the case whenever a new threat emerges, it’s important to follow specific public health recommendations. Doctors advise taking the same precautions you would to avoid a cold or flu, including meticulous handwashing and being cautious around people who are sick.