If you’ve kept up with news and social media in recent weeks, you’ve probably heard about the spread of a coronavirus. But what is a coronavirus, anyway? And how concerned should you be?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause respiratory illness. They’re typically mild, and are one of the causes behind the common cold. You have most likely had multiple coronavirus infections during your lifetime.

COVID-19 ( coronavirus disease 2019) is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. So currently there is no vaccine or treatment for it. While there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, the best way to protect against it and any other upper respiratory virus is to practice good cold and flu season hygiene.

While most people who contract the virus will recover on their own, people who have a weakened immune system (the elderly, the very young and those with underlying medical conditions) could be at risk for a more serious infection.

It must be stressed again, most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover (some show no symptoms at all), but it can be more severe for others.

Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

Wash your hands frequently. 
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
The National Institutes of Health says it’s in the early stages of developing a vaccine.