News about the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December 2019 spreading rapidly across the country and killing over 400 people mostly in Mainland China.
Over 20,000 cases have been reported in Mainland China with a small number of cases being registered in other countries like Thailand, Australia, the US and Philippines, among others. Here is more information about the virus.
Overview – What is it?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-COV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV).
Novel Coronavirus (nCOV) is a new strain of the virus which causes respiratory symptoms including coughing, fever and shortness of breath. It is crucial that you seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.
The virus is transmitted between animals and people and further spread of the virus can be prevented through, regular handwashing, covering the mouth, and nose when sneezing or coughing and cooking food thoroughly, especially meat and eggs. Laboratory tests are carried out to diagnose the disease after which supportive care is started to ease the symptoms and to support vital body organs.
Causes – What Causes Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is transmitted between animals and people making it zoonotic; the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV) was transmitted dromedary camels to humans while the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-COV) is transmitted from civet cats. The spread from one person to the other is said to occur through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes as in the spread of other respiratory pathogens like influenza.
The droplets can land on the mouths or noses of people nearby or could be inhaled into the lungs. It is, however, still unclear if a person can get infected with nCOV by touching an object or surface that has the virus and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.
Transmission of other coronaviruses can happen through:
- Close contact with an infected person, supposedly within 6 ft,
- Air by sneezing and coughing,
- Fecal contamination, or
- Touching surfaces or objects with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing the hands.
Symptoms – What do you feel?
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to those of other upper respiratory infections, these include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat and a fever in some cases
- Shortness of breath
Diagnosis – How is it Diagnosed?
Just like other respiratory infections, laboratory tests are done on respiratory specimens and serum which is part of the blood, to help diagnose coronavirus.
It is important to seek medical attention and wear a face mask immediately you start getting the above symptoms to prevent spreading the virus to other people if you have the coronavirus.
You should also stay away from other people in case you are infected with the virus to avoid infecting them.
Treatment – How is it Treated?
There is no specific antivirus for the coronavirus. All infected people should receive supportive care to help relieve the symptoms caused by the virus and support vital organ functions.
China has already started clinical trial to test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as, it also tries to come up with a vaccine to protect those who have not been infected.
Prevention – How do you prevent it?
Currently, there is no vaccine available for coronavirus, therefore, prevention is done to reduce the risk of getting the virus. This can be done by:
- Washing the hands regularly with soap (preferably antibacterial/disinfectant soap) and water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom, before eating and after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, at least 60% alcohol, in the absence of soap.
- Avoiding touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands
- Avoiding close contact with sick people
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household bleach, disinfectant cleaning wipe or disinfectant spray
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and disposing the tissue correctly.
- Ensuring your food is well cooked, especially eggs and meat.
If you suspect you have Coronavirus symptoms, do not panic, first, wear a mask or a cloth over your nose and mouth to avoid contaminating others.
Quickly visit a Hospital and alert the attendants or nurses that you suspect you have the virus. Be positive and avoid contact with others in order to minimize contamination. Stay safe.