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Saudi Arabia

What You Need To Know About The Deadly New Coronavirus



Over the past two weeks, a growing number of cases have been reported of a new strain of coronavirus, a contagious and potentially fatal virus that resembles SARS, which caused a global health scare a decade ago. Here's what you need to know:

What is the new coronavirus?

The exact medical term for the virus is NCoV-EMC or novel coronavirus. "Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to SARS. Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases," the World Health Organization reports.

The new strain of coronavirus is also referred to as "SARS-like virus" as it has similar features, although the new one seems less contagious, says French epidemiologist Antoine Flahault.

The novel coronavirus is not to be confused with the avian influenza A(H7N9), which emerged at the beginning of the year.

How widespread?
Since the virus was first identified in September 2012, 34 cases have been reported, and 18 people have died from it, according to the World Health Organization. Fifteen of the deaths so far have been in Saudi Arabia, with cases also confirmed in France, UK, Germany and Jordan.

What are the symptoms?
Most patients suffer from severe acute respiratory disease requiring hospitalization and eventually require mechanical ventilation or other advanced respiratory support. The virus causes pneumonia and can lead to kidney failure.

Who is at risk?
The World Health Organization said on Sunday that it seemed likely the virus could be transmitted from human to human, but only after prolonged contact. There is no evidence of a potential "generalized transmission in communities," The Guardian reports. Most patients affected were living in the Middle East or had recently traveled there. They were mostly male (around 80%), and their ages ranged from 24 to 94 years old (median age: 56).

What are the precautions to take?
As of today, the virus poses a low risk of transmission and is not considered as an epidemic. Still, people traveling to the Middle East are advised to wash their hands regularly and avoid contact with animals.

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Why Friendship For Seniors Is Different — And More Important Than You Can Know

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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