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What parents should know about the new virus

The new virus: How to protect yourself and your children against .

What is a ‘novel’ coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of corona-virus.

The new virus caused by the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’

The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

COVID-19 has been described as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. What does that mean? 

Characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic is not an indication that the virus has become deadlier. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement of the disease’s geographical spread.

There’s a lot of information online. What should I do?

There are a lot of myths and misinformation about coronavirus being shared online – including on how COVID-19 spreads, how to stay safe, and what to do if you’re worried about having contracted the virus.

So, it’s important to be careful where you look for information and advice. This explainer contains information and recommendations on how to reduce the risk of infectionwhether you should take your child out of schoolwhether it’s safe for women to breastfeed, and precautions to take when traveling.

How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. 

These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. It’s important to remember that key prevention measures are the same – frequent hand washing, and respiratory hygiene (cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue into a closed bin). Also, there is a vaccine for the flu – so remember to keep yourself and your child up to date with vaccinations


Source: UNICEF has also launched a portal where you can find more information and guidance about COVID-19. In addition, the WHO has a useful section addressing some of the most frequently asked questions.

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