What is the coronavirus?

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LONDON: The coronavirus is an RNA virus. In simple terms, RNA is a precursor to the more well-known DNA. The coronavirus is one of seven strains of a virus class that are known to infect humans.

Others cause everything from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed 774 people during its 2002/3 outbreak. Since the coronavirus outbreak was identified, more than 6.1 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Of these cases, over 2.6 million are known to have “recovered”. Globally, the death toll has exceeded 372,100. The coronavirus mainly spreads face to face via infected droplets expelled in a cough or sneeze.

There is also evidence it can survive on surfaces. The coronavirus has no “set” treatment, with most patients naturally fighting off the infection.

Those requiring hospitalisation are given “supportive care”, like ventilation, while their immune system gets to work. Officials urge people ward off infection by washing their hands regularly and maintaining social distancing.