Pandemic Viruses

This month on Newsdesk: scientists fight a virus outbreak, an astronaut returns to Earth and the benefits of beavers.

Scientists fight a virus outbreak

Scientists are studying an outbreak of a virus called a coronavirus.

A virus is a tiny particle that can infect living things and make them sick.

This new coronavirus, named Covid-19, was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and has now spread to other countries.

The virus can spread when people cough or sneeze. It affects the lungs, and can cause breathing problems and fever. Most people who catch it will make a full recovery, but some people – such as the elderly – can become very sick.

Scientists at Imperial College London are developing a powerful medicine, called a vaccine, that will protect people against this coronavirus. In the meantime, doctors say that good hygiene – such as regularly washing your hands – can help stop the disease from spreading.

A record-breaking astronaut returns to Earth

NASA astronaut Christina Koch has waved goodbye to the International Space Station (ISS) and has returned to Earth!

She made the journey in a spacecraft with two colleagues from Italy and Russia. Christina spent 328 days in space – longer than any other female astronaut.

During her time on the ISS, she took part in six spacewalks and helped with hundreds of scientific studies. One of the studies is exploring how the human body copes with being in space for such a long time. This research will help scientists to plan future long-distance space missions to the Moon and Mars!

Beavers bring benefits

400 hundred years ago, wild beavers were hunted to extinction in England. Then, in 2013, beavers were discovered living in the River Otter in Devon, south-west England. It’s thought they escaped from captivity, then reproduced. Now, a study has found that the beavers are bringing lots of benefits to the area.

Beavers use branches and mud to build dams in rivers. The dams slow down the flow of water, creating calm ponds where the beavers build their home, called a lodge. The ponds also create habitats for other animals, while the dams reduce the risk of flooding further down the river, and help to filter pollution from the water.

So busy beaver builders are a big help for the local environment!

Watch Pandemic viruses to discover more about how viruses spread.

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