Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Coronaviruses usually circulate among animals, however sometimes they can make a jump from animals to humans as a result of mutations or increased contact with humans.
In December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases emerged in the city of Wuhan, china. Upon investigation, it was found that it was caused by a previously unknown virus now referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
This new coronavirus has since spread from infected individuals to family members and healthcare workers managing them. As of 5th of February, 2020, human-to-human transmission has been confirmed largely in Wuhan city, as well as some other places in China and internationally.
With this increase in number of new cases, the WHO has declared the new coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Although little information is still available about this virus, coronaviruses generally spread via droplets formed when an infected person coughs or sneezes. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection.
Viruses can also be spread through droplets landing on surfaces such as seats on buses or trains or tables at work, computer keyboards etc.
Symptoms of Coronavirus generally range from mild symptoms like fever, respiratory symptoms like cough, shortness of breath to more severe symptoms like pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
Diagnosis of Coronavirus
Coronaviruses can be confirmed via a diagnostic test referred to as Polymerase Chain Reaction.
No specific medication is available yet to treat the virus neither is there any vaccine currently available to protect against the virus. Treatment and vaccines are in development so supportive care is employed in infected patients.
Standard hygiene practices such as:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.
- Use facial masks appropriately where necessary.
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
- Do not consume raw or undercooked animal products. Cook raw meat, milk or animal organs thoroughly before eating.
- If you have returned from an affected area in China in the last two weeks, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This means not going to work, school or public areas.
- If you have returned from an infected area and develop a high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing, do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a doctor. Also remember to share previous travel history with your health care provider.
The WHO advises International airports and travel points to have entry and exit screenings (such as temperature screening) to better monitor the outbreak .
To read more on how to manage cold and flu visit https://pharm.com.ng/infectious-diseases/cold-and-flu-causes-treatment-and-prevention/
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