We are in middle of flu season but now have to deal with this Corona virus outbreak emerging from China. Is this a new discovery? Not really, many of the coronaviruses (CoV) cause illnesses ranging from common colds to more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). However, a novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Whats new about this Coronavirus?
The current outbreak of respiratory illness caused by novel coronavirus that can spread from person to person. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or vaccine for 2019-nCoV. Older adults and those with weak immune system are thought to be at increased risk. Pediatric population is also at risk.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of coronavirus illness include:
- Early symptoms: chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, runny nose
- Breathing difficulty or shortness of breath
- Severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How can I protect myself?
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid the exposure to the virus. There are certain measures which can help prevent the spread:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and others, particularly if they have cough, sneezing and fever.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cook meat and eggs thoroughly.
- Practice general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets.
How can I protect others?
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with others.
- Clean and disinfect objects and “high-touch” surfaces often.
Is there a treatment for Coronavirus infection?
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for C0VID-19. Efforts are underway to manufacture a vaccine against it. People with CoVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
Should we panic?
No. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern. The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people, and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital. Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact. Generally, the coronavirus appears to be hitting older people hardest, with few cases in children.