What’s the difference between coronavirus and COVID-19?

A woman wearing a face mask walks through the City of London in London, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. British authorities laid out plans Tuesday to confront a COVID-19 epidemic, saying that the new coronavirus could spread within weeks from a few dozen confirmed cases to millions of infections, with thousands of people in the U.K. at risk of death. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – The World Health Organization announced “COVID-19” as the name of the 2019 novel coronavirus on February 11.

CO stands for corona while the letter V is for virus, and 19 represents the year 2019.

World Health Organization was in communication with the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) regarding the names of the virus and disease.

On February 11, ICTV announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus.

“Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names,” experts with the World Health Organization explained. “For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.”

COVID-19 or coronavirus is the disease responsible for the virus called SARS-CoV-2 or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

What are the symptoms?

Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and trouble breathing are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

"It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties," the World Health Organization says.

“More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with preexisting medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”

How can you protect yourself?

In general, the public should do "what you do every cold and flu season," said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state.

That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Don't forget to wash the backs of your hands and under your nails, the CDC says.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.

If you're the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don't use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.

While the CDC does not recommend N95 respirator masks for the general public, it does recommend them for health care workers.

But certain types of facial hair can prevent respirators from working effectively. The CDC has an infographic showing which styles of facial hair are riskier than others.

Why is this coronavirus different?

There are many kinds of coronaviruses, including some that cause the common cold.

But this deadly strain is called a "novel" coronavirus because it has not previously been identified in humans.

It's unusual for several reasons:

-- Scientists believe this type of coronavirus jumped from a different animal to humans, which is rare.

-- It then became transmissible from human to human, which is even more rare.

-- An infected person might not show symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure. That’s especially worrisome because this novel coronavirus can be transmitted while a person still isn’t showing any symptoms.

About the Author: