China first alerted the World Health Organisation about the novel coronavirus at the end of December 2019. Now, the virus, named COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) has prompted some experts to call this a much-needed wake-up call for how we manage global health.
Professor Paul Tambyah from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine's Department of Medicine sheds light on how the virus works and why this particular strain of the coronavirus poses a threat to humans.
Not all coronaviruses are deadly to humans. Prof Tambyah explains that it is only when the human cell has a receptor for the virus that allows the virus to lock on to our cells and start stealing nutrients to sustain itself and reproduce.
He added that "the problem comes when there is a mutation [of the virus]" which now allows it to enter the human cell. Having no previous encounter with the virus, the human cell has no immunity to the virus and this is how the virus could make one ill.
Learn more about how the virus works from the video here:
WATCH: Some experts see coronavirus outbreak as a wake-up call