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The World Health Organization (WHO), in early 2020, identified SARS-CoV-2 as a new type of coronavirus after a December 2019 outbreak in China. This virus is responsible for the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which was first identified in Wuhan, China, following reports of serious pneumonia.

Coronavirus particles are relatively simple structures. These are spherical and coated with spikes of protein. These spikes help the virus to bind to and infect healthy cells in the infected body. This prompts the body to produce antibodies against this new virus. On the positive side, these bits of spike can be used to create potential coronavirus vaccines.

Beneath these spikes is a layer of membrane, inside which is the virus’s genetic material or its genome. This genome is made up of RNA, which is subject to constant changes or mutations.

Variants of coronavirus and their symptoms

Earlier in 2020, when researchers were studying changes in coronavirus RNA, it turned out that the coronaviruses found in humans weren’t all the same.

Here are some of the different variants:

  • Alpha variant – this was first seen in people in southeastern England and later in many countries, including the U.S. This virus can spread easily and is 70% transmissible. Fever, cough, fatigue and loss of sense of smell and taste are the symptoms of this variant.
  • Beta variant – this has been found in countries like South Africa and Nigeria. Even though this variant appears to spread more easily, it doesn’t seem to cause really terrible illness. Fever and respiratory discomfort along with loss of sense of smell and taste are its common symptoms.
  • Gamma variant – this was first spotted in people from Brazil who had travelled to Japan in January 2021. This virus appears to be more contagious than the earlier strains. Also, it seems to be able to infect people who had Covid before.
  • Delta – this variant was spotted in India in December 2020. It caused a huge surge in Covid cases in April 2021. This is a highly contagious variant which is now found in 178 countries. It is still the dominant strain in the U.S. and the U.K. Headache, sore throat, runny nose and fever are some of its common symptoms.
  • Mu, R.1., Epsilon, Theta and zeta – these are still being monitored as variants of interest.
  • Omicron – this is the latest variant. It is highly transmissible. Runny nose, stuffy nose and sore throat are its most common symptoms, with fatigue and a light fever.

Urgent care centers are the most fitting place if you need care for a minor medical emergency or other healthcare services like lab work and vaccinations. Many urgent care centers have doctors along with a full staff of physician assistants and nurses who can diagnose the medical issue and prescribe the right treatment. You can also consult them online during these times to avoid unnecessary exposure.

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