There is a new public health crises threatening the world with the emergence and spread of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus originated in bats and was transmitted to humans through yet unknown intermediary animals in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in December 2019. There have been around 96,000 reported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) and 3300 reported deaths. The disease is transmitted by inhalation or contact with infected droplets and the incubation period ranges from 2 to 14 d. The symptoms are usually fever, cough, sore throat, breathlessness, fatigue, malaise among others. The disease is mild in most people; in some (usually the elderly and those with comorbidities), it may progress to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multi organ dysfunction. Many people are asymptomatic. The case fatality rate is estimated to range from 2 to 3%. Diagnosis is by demonstration of the virus in respiratory secretions by special molecular tests. Common laboratory findings include normal/ low white cell counts with elevated C-reactive protein (CRP). The computerized tomographic chest scan is usually abnormal even in those with no symptoms or mild disease. Treatment is essentially supportive; role of antiviral agents is yet to be established. Prevention entails home isolation of suspected cases and those with mild illnesses and strict infection control measures at hospitals that include contact and droplet precautions. The virus spreads faster than its two ancestors the SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), but has lower fatality. The global impact of this new epidemic is yet uncertain. Here we provide a brief introduction to corona viruses discussing their structure replication, diagnosis, current drugs, vaccine strategies and current prevention.
Key words: Nidovirales; Coronavirus; positive-sense RNA viruses, replication, respiratory disease.