Why it’s called coronavirus

In Atlanta, Delta is suspending flights between Atlanta and Shanghai. The last return Delta flight from China to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport left Sunday.

For most of the public, the term "coronavirus" wasn't well known until a few weeks ago, when a mysterious ailment starting spread through China, then the world.

"Corona" means crown in Spanish, and coronavirus is a category of viruses so named because of its appearance -- it's covered with crown-like spikes, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This undated handout photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a microscopic view of the Coronavirus at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia.

Credit: CDC/Getty Images

Credit: CDC/Getty Images

The virus that has caused today's public health emergency is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, shortened to 2019-nCoV, which was first reported in Wuhan city in China's Hubei province. Other human coronaviruses have caused severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.

Coronaviruses have nothing to do with Corona beer, which many in the public are very familiar with.

»THE LATEST: Complete coverage of coronavirus in Georgia

Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a briefing Monday that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus name was a temporary name, and that it could be changed.

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 07: In this photo illustration, bottles of Corona beer are shown on June 7, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Constellation Brands, one of the world's largest wine companies, is expected to become the third-largest beer supplier in the United State today with a $5.3 billion purchase of the U.S. distribution rights of Grupo Modelo beers from Anheuser Busch InBev. Corona Extra, brewed by Grupo Modelo, is the number one selling imported beer sold in the United States and the number six selling beer overall. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Credit: Scott Olson

Credit: Scott Olson

To protect against coronavirus, which has symptoms similar to the flu, the CDC recommends that people avoid travel to ChinaDelta and other airlines have suspended flights to and from China,  and the U.S. government has put in place travel restrictions and quarantine procedures.


CDC recommends preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

• CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

• If you are concerned you might have the coronavirus, call your healthcare provider before going to a hospital or clinic. In mild cases, your doctor might give you advice on how to treat symptoms at home without seeing you in person, which would reduce the number of people you expose. But in more severe cases an urgent care center or hospital would benefit from advance warning because they can prepare for your arrival. For example, they may want you to enter a special entrance, so you don’t expose others.

Source: CDC

To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, the CDC recommends that people wash their hands well; avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay home when sick; cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue; and disinfect regularly objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.

The CDC is not recommending the use of face masks among the general public, saying the virus "is not currently spreading in the community in the United States."

“Please do not let fear or panic guide your actions. For example, please do not assume that just because someone is of Asian descent that they have this new coronavirus. There are about 4 million Chinese-Americans in this country,” Messonnier said.

Latest coronavirus outbreak news from the AJC: Full coverage 

More from the CDC:

ExploreAbout 2019 Novel Coronavirus
ExplorePrevention & Treatment
ExploreFrequently asked questions

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