[February 2020 update]
The Corona virus has emerged from an area in China. The latest information that I heard was that the origin was bats, similar to the Ebola virus although the two diseases are very different.
From what I gather the disease is spread through direct contact. This has been defined in the article that I have read as being within 6 feet of an infected person. The disease travels in an airborne fashion through droplets that we expel (sneezing, sweating, spitting etc) It also can live for up to 24hrs on surfaces that these droplets have come in contact with. So for example if you sit at a counter where an infected person has sat and come in contact with the virus you are subject to being infected if that person sat there within the past 24 hours.
The best way to avoid the virus , based on what I have heard and seen, is to wash your hands very frequently. The other way is to avoid contact with people you do not know especially within six feet and especially if they show any signs of illness such as coughing or sneezing. The other thing to do is to wipe down all of the surfaces you come in contact with using some kind of sanitizer. Also, using hand sanitizer is another good means to keep you germ free although hand washing regularly is still the preferred approach to staying safe.
From what I have heard the most vulnerable people are the elderly and those who have preexisting conditions particularly of a respiratory nature. Apparently the disease acts similarly to pneumonia in that it produces shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. The difference between the corona virus and the flu or pneumonia is the fatality rate and the lack of any vaccine or effective treatment.
While there are on average 30,000 to 60,000 cases of the flu in a given year less than 1% of them are fatal. In contrast the Corona virus has had 100,000 cases since it’s initial outbreak last fall and 3% of them have been fatal. In addition we are no closer to a vaccine or cure than we were initially.Also the speed at which the disease seems to spread is alarming. While the initial outbreak was in China in late October early November it has now traveled virtually all over the world except Antarctica in 5 months.
The only good news is that for people who are in relatively good health the impact of the virus is not that severe. There are few medications like Zithromax in Australia or Chloroquine that may be used for Coronavirus treatment. Some people who have been infected describe their symptoms as no worse than a cold.
What is next? The key will be to somehow stop the spread while at the same time developing some type of vaccine to cure those who are infected or at least make it non lethal