28 January 2020
China’s mystery new coronavirus is spreading fast. More than 2,700 people are known to be infected and at least 80 deaths have been recorded.
The bulk of cases have been confined to China but the virus is gradually spreading further afield. So far cases have been confirmed in more than 13 countries, including France, Australia and the United States.
Wʜᴀᴛ ᴀʀᴇ Cᴏʀᴏɴᴀᴠɪʀᴜsᴇs?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that originate in animals before making the jump to humans. Seven, including the new virus, have been found in humans, with four causing only mild, common cold-like symptoms.
But two – Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) – are much more severe, having killed more than 1,500 people between them.
Around 15 to 20 per cent of hospital cases are severe and the current death rate stands at about two per cent. This is quite high but it may be because authorities are not aware of milder cases of the disease.
Wʜᴀᴛ ᴀʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇ sʏᴍᴘᴛᴏᴍs ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴇᴡ ᴄᴏʀᴏɴᴀᴠɪʀᴜs?
According to WHO, symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus usually include:
A high temperature
A cough and/or sore throat
These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases including the common cold, itself a type of coronavirus. So if you have symptoms consider the following:
. Have you travelled in the last two weeks to a high risk area?
. Have you been in contact with someone who has?
Wʜᴇɴ sʜᴏᴜʟᴅ I sᴇᴇᴋ ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ ʜᴇʟᴘ?
If you have travelled to Wuhan City in China (or another significantly affected area) in the last two weeks, or have been in contact with someone who has and feel unwell, CALL your GP/ Doctor or Healthline for advice now.
Do NOT go straight to a doctor's surgery or hospital as, if you have the virus, you risk spreading it to others.
Hᴏᴡ ᴀʀᴇ ᴄᴏʀᴏɴᴀᴠɪʀᴜsᴇs ᴛʀᴀɴsᴍɪᴛᴛᴇᴅ?
Like other coronaviruses – such as the common cold – the virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread when someone touches a contaminated surface such as a door handle etc.
Hᴏᴡ ᴄᴀɴ I ᴘʀᴏᴛᴇᴄᴛ ᴍʏsᴇʟғ?
Hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence.
Like cold and flu bugs, the new virus is thought to be spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.
It follows that the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitising gel.
Also try to avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands – something we all do unconsciously on average about 15 times an hour.
Carry a hand sanitiser with you to make frequent cleaning of hands easy.
Always wash your hands before you eat.
Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems about touching things and then touching your face.
Carry disposable tissues with you and always cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze before disposing of the tissue carefully (catch it, bin it, kill it).
Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into.
Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating.
Regularly clean, not just your hands, but commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle.
”Safe Hands" - Please ensure you are following your Health and Hygiene guidelines, washing hands correctly and using gloves when applicable.
Information obtained from Telegraph Global Health Security.