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Virus: Novel Coronavirus

The coronaviruses are members of a family of large, single-stranded RNA viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm of animal host cells. SARS-CoV is a type of coronavirus, which has been identified in patients with SARS; thus this novel coronavirus might have caused SARS.

To prove this hypothesis, further specimens from patients with probable and suspected SARS to healthy contacts of patients affected by SARS were tested.

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Association between SARS and the coronavirus

In Hanoi, Vietnam, records have shown that although there are high numbers of patients with probable cases, there are also high numbers of healthy contacts of patients affected by the same outbreak. Therefore, this provides supporting evidence of an association between the novel coronavirus and the disease.

Image 2.1.1 A civet cat in a cage (photo provided by Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 2004).

Civet cats

There has been speculation that the novel coronavirus originated from palm civets, a cat-like mammal closely related to the mongoose, in Guangdong (China). These palm civets are a delicacy in Guangdong where people believe that humans became infected by slaughtering the animals rather than consuming the infected meat.

Might SARS coronavirus recombine with other human coronaviruses to produce an even more deadly virus?

Recently, the SARS outbreak has made a comeback, and there is speculation that this might be a different form of the coronavirus. Yet, in the past, recombinations of viruses of different groups have never occurred; therefore, a recombination between SARS virus and HCoV is not likely.


  • SARS Quiz
    In this quiz you will find questions based on the information available in Basic Guide, Virus and Prevention.

  • Crossword puzzle 2: Virus
    Online crossword puzzle based on Virus.

  • SARS Quest - Averting An Outbreak
    In this short Flash game, you will be taking on the role of the Health Minister of the imaginary country of Asitwon. Your aim is to use all necessary means to prevent a SARS outbreak in the country.


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