We are all concerned about the rapid spread of the CORONAVIRUS and want to know the FACTS to ensure prevention from infection. We asked Consultant in Family Medicine, Dr. Anjum Ishaque to help us make sense of the health crisis!
- Corona Viruses are a large family of viruses which cause a variety of diseases. They get their name because their shape resembles a crown when seen under the microscope.
2. One type causes the common cold while another type was responsible for the SARS outbreak (thought to have started in Civet Cats).
Yet another strain was responsible for the MERS outbreak (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome which is thought to have started in Camels).
The current strain which was first identified in China is a new type which has not caused disease in the past. Hence the name Novel!
It was identified after a larger than average number of patients, were reported to be suffering from pneumonia in the Wuhan province of China.
3. It was later discovered that all these patients had visited a fish market recently and hence the theory is that it probably started in an animal species and then has spread to humans.
It is still not clear which animal may have first been infected with this virus and then spread it to humans.
Regardless of the origin of this virus what is now clear is that it is spreading between humans at a very fast rate.
4. This is to be expected as humans will have no prior immunity to this and are hence likely to get infected easily.
The method of transmission is also not certain but it is likely to be spread by respiratory droplet infection i.e. by sneezing, coughing etc.
CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION FACTS
There are some precautions we can therefore take to prevent the spread of infection and these include:
a) Wash hands regularly and this should be with soap and water if the hands are visibly dirty and with alcohol-based hand gel if they are not.
This is especially important after touching animals or being in a crowded place.
b) Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing, with a tissue ideally which should be disposed afterwards in a covered bin. Or if this is not available, then cough into your elbow.
c) Cook food thoroughly especially meat and eggs as we still do not know the source of the infection and cooking food will ensure that the virus is killed if present.
d) Wear a face mask only if you are unwell, so that you do not spread your infection to others.
e) Avoid close contact with anyone who is unwell. This is especially important if they have travelled to China within the last 14 days. Or have been in close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with the virus.
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
- If the infection is severe it may cause Pneumonia, Renal and Respiratory Failure and Death.
If you have travelled to China or been in contact with anyone diagnosed with the disease in the two weeks preceding the symptoms then you should get a test to exclude the infection. This will be normally done at government or designated laboratories as the older tests do not detect this strain of virus.
Diagnosis of the disease will necessitate you to be isolated and treated so that you do not spread the infection to others.
We are still not clear what the fatality rate of the virus is currently and if this is more in people who have pre-existing diseases or in older people. To date most of the deaths were in China and one has been reported in the Philippines. There have been no deaths in other countries even in people who have been diagnosed with the virus but this situation may change.
NO NEED TO PANIC
People just need to be vigilant about their own health and practice common sense hygiene measures to avoid spread. Follow the Coronavirus prevention facts and you should be ok!
Wearing a face mask while unwell will protect others from getting your infections! Which is MORE LIKELY to be the common cold or influenza than the Novel CoronaVirus 2019!