In the space of just a few weeks, a deadly Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) began spreading through the Chinese city of Wuhan.

It has claimed more than 50 lives, with approximately 2000 more Chinese people being infected.

Since the initial breakout, the Coronavirus has been reported to have spread to Europe, the United States and now, Australia. As of this weekend, the total number of Australian cases of contraction of the Coronavirus has reach four.

NSW Health has confirmed three men in Sydney have tested positive after returning from trips to China, while a man in Melbourne also has contracted the virus after spending time in Wuhan.

So, what exactly is the Coronavirus and what should we know about it?

What is it and what are the symptoms?

The Coronavirus is a type of virus that is often found in animals – they can range from livestock to your normal household pets. In humans, the virus can cause intense fevers, respiratory illnesses (not unlike the flu) and lung inflammation.

This particular strand of the Coronavirus is reported to have originated in a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan – a Chinese town outside of Beijing, with a population of more than 11 million. Researchers have found that the Coronavirus shares roughly 80% of its genes with the SARS virus of the 2000s that infected thousands.

An extensive report on the new Coronavirus has outlined features of the virus that patients often present with. These include: fever and high body temperatures, breathing difficulties, intense fatigue, muscle pains and dry coughs. Headaches, coughing up blood or mucus and experiencing diarrhea can also be symptoms of the virus. Should the virus progress with a patient, they can come down with pneumonia.

Can it be treated?

While there are no ways currently available to treat and combat the virus, scientists at The National Institutes of Health are working on a vaccine. According to CNN, it could take months for clinical trials to get underway, and more than a year until an actual vaccine is available for people.

Most of the people who have died from the virus already had pre-existing health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

What can I do to take precautions?

People are advised to execute good hygiene practice – essentially take the same precautions as you would in preventing catching the flu.

Doctors who suspect would-be patients of having the virus are encouraged to advise them to wear masks, avoid large crowds and isolate themselves as much as possible.

For more information and to keep up to date on the latest updates on the status of the Coronavirus in Australia, keep your eye on the Department of Health’s website.

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