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  • A new type of coronavirus has emerged from the city of Wuhan in China.

  • Within weeks, it has spread to several countries and has killed multiple people.

  • Corona refers to the virus's distinctive shape.

  • They are a large group, common among mammals and birds.

  • But in rare cases like this one, they can spread to humans - a process known as zoonosis.

  • This new virus is the seventh known human coronavirus,

  • and it affects the respiratory system.

  • Some coronaviruses have mild symptoms; however, others are much more dangerous.

  • SARS and MERS are both coronaviruses.

  • The most urgent question is how does it spread?

  • It seems that the virus can be transmitted between humans, but it's still unclear whether this happens routinely.

  • Some early severe cases caused a lot of concern, but this has receded slightly, as more mild cases turn up.

  • The new virus does not seem to be as deadly as SARS, which killed around 11 percent of the people it infected.

  • Researchers think that the virus originated in an unknown animal at a market in Wuhan.

  • Identifying that animal could help control the current outbreak and gauge its threat going forward.

  • The virus's genetic code could offer clues to its origins and spread.

  • Labs in China and Thailand have sequenced at least 19 strains from infected people, and made them publicly available.

  • Analysis is ongoing.

  • There are no known drugs that can effectively treat coronavirus infections in humans, and no vaccines are currently licensed.

  • But researchers are working on the problem.

  • One possible avenue is to block the receptor the viruses use to infect humans.

  • With more cases being reported every day, the race is on to contain the outbreak.

  • And scientists are at the heart of the effort.

A new type of coronavirus has emerged from the city of Wuhan in China.

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