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.

Why it’s called coronavirus

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. 

FILE - This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Photo: CDC

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.

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)
Photo: 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.

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:

About 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Prevention & Treatment

Frequently asked questions

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