You can find information about coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) at:
- What are coronaviruses
- The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
- Occurrence and transmission
- Hygiene tips to protect against catching the virus in everyday life
- Effectiveness of Dr. Weigert disinfectants against coronaviruses
- More up-to-date and useful links
- Dr. Weigert – information on disinfection
Coronavirus... What exactly is it and does it come from China?
Coronaviruses, CoV for short, are a family of RNA viruses which infect both animals and people and primarily trigger conditions of the respiratory system in humans.
Coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. They can infect both people and various animals, including birds and mammals. Coronaviruses cause various illnesses in humans, from common colds to dangerous or even potentially fatal conditions such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
In the past, serious illnesses caused by coronaviruses such as SARS or MERS were less infectious than influenza but they still led to large outbreaks.
Coronaviruses are named after their appearance under an electron microscope. In a two-dimensional sectional image, they have a round shape, from which a corona with spikes protrudes. The crown-shaped appearance of the viruses under the electron microscope thus explains how they were named [from the Latin: corona, meaning crown]. The viruses are between 120 and 160 nm in size and have a virus shell with three or four embedded membrane proteins. Spikes between 9 and 12 nm long can be found on the surface and these spikes are responsible for binding to the host cell.
Overall, depending on the season, coronaviruses are responsible for 10–35% of common colds. More infections occur in the late autumn, in winter and at the start of spring.
The nightmare hanging over the new decade has been “coronavirus” since the start of 2020
In December 2019, a novel coronavirus was identified in 2019-nCoV, which is responsible for an epidemic in the Chinese province of Hubei, including other areas. Something that initially sounded like it was so far away, since the first coronavirus cases were reported by the Chinese city of Wuhan, now has the entire world firmly in its grip. At the end of December 2019, increased outbreaks of a pulmonary disease triggered by the previously-unknown coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 were identified in the megacity of Wuhan in the Chinese province Hubei.
What do SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 stand for?
Since February, the novel coronavirus that was initially provisionally named “2019-nCoV”, has had a new name: SARS-CoV-2. The acronym SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The name refers to the close connection with the SARS virus, which caused an epidemic in 2002/2003. The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes the pulmonary disease called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and was the trigger for the 2019/2020 coronavirus pandemic, which was classified by the WHO as being a “health emergency of international concern”.
What was the source of the outbreak?
According to details provided by the Chinese authorities in Wuhan, some patients worked as vendors or salespeople at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan. This is the largest seafood market in Wuhan with over 600 stands and 1500 workers. There were reports of wild animals and/or organs of other animals and reptiles being available at the market. This resulted in the presumption that the precursors to SARS-CoV-19 came from wild animals and that the first patients contracted the virus at the start of December at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed on 1.1.20. However, other possibilities are now also being discussed regarding the origin of the virus.
How is SARS-CoV-2 transmitted?
The novel coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person. Cases have also been identified in which people have contracted the virus from individuals who only experienced non-specific symptoms. The virus primarily causes respiratory disorders. It is assumed that transmission, as with other coronaviruses, primarily takes place via secretions of the respiratory system. According to information available to date, transmission takes place in particular when people come into close contact.
According to current knowledge, transmission primarily takes place via respiratory secretions, mainly droplets – for example, when coughing and sneezing, and during certain medical/dental procedures. Indirect transmission, e.g. via hands or contaminated surfaces in clinical environments, is also possible according to the RKI.
The data and experiences to date with other coronaviruses have led to the creation of hygiene measures based on the processes used for SARS and MERS, as well as those set out in the KRINKO recommendations on “Infection prevention within the framework of care and treatment of patients with communicable diseases” and “Recommendations for hygiene measures in the treatment of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2”.
Disinfection and cleaning
For chemical disinfection, products with proven efficacy which include the scope of “limited virucidal effect” (effective against enveloped viruses) are to be used. Products with an extended effect against viruses such as “limited virucidal effect PLUS” or “virucidal” can also be used.
- Schoeman D et al. Coronavirus envelope protein: current knowledge, Virol J. 2019 May 27;16(1):69
- www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Hygiene.html Last updated: 26.5.2020
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You can find up-to-date information and hygiene tips to protect against infection on this website and on the homepage of the Robert Koch Institute.