Journal article Open Access
Coronaviruses infect mammals and birds worldwide, and some of these viruses infect humans to cause mild to moderate lower-respiratory tract illnesses and rarely a severe illness. Like other viruses, coronaviruses evolved (change their genetic material and protein structure) and spread from animals to humans. The world has witnessed coronavirus evolving into severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012. Other recent examples include Dengue, Ebola, Chikungunya, Influenza and Zika virus outbreaks. It may or may not be relevant to note that first cases of both SARS-CoV in 2003 avian influenza virus (H5N1) in 1997 were isolated and identified at the same hospital in Hong Kong where the first case of the current outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus has been identified.