History of Coronaviruses


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Usually coronaviruses causing illness in humans only cause mild symptoms.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties and sometimes diarrhoea. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.


  1. SARS(Severe acute Respiratory Syndrome):- In November 2002, Guandong province in South China experienced an outbreak of an unusual respiratory infection, with many deaths. This spread and outbreak soon initiated in other countries. The pandemic was controlled by July but in its course it affected 30 countries with thousands of cases and more than 800 deaths. There were no cases in India, only a few cases were suspected.
  2. MERS(Middle East Respiratory syndrome):- It was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The virus was known as MERS-CoV. Detailed investigations found that MERS-CoV was spread to humans from dromedary camels to humans. It affected 27 countries with more than 2100 cases and more than 700 confirmed deaths. It was also not reported from India.
  3. COVID-19/ SARS2:- This is the most recently identified virus from Wuhan, China   in December 2019. Though it is completely different from coronaviruses identified earlier, the symptoms show resemblance to the 2002-SARS, therefore it has been named as SARS2. Complete identification of the virus is still going on and there is still  no specific treatment for the illness. This has resulted in a number of deaths(>750) and the number is still increasing.

There are several known coronaviruses that are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.



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