What We Know About the 2019 Novel Coronavirus So Far
On 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia of unknown cause was reported in Wuhan city, Hubei Province of China. On 7 January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) had been detected in association with the cluster, and the viral genetic sequence was publicly released by China on 12 January.
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the WHO declared the outbreak global health emergency – a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses causing illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Coronaviruses commonly circulate in animals such as bats, but some can mutate easily to infect humans and spread between people. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only seven, including the new virus, are known to infect people.
There are no specific treatments such as vaccines for coronaviruses but many symptoms caused by the viruses can be treated. To date, the viral outbreak has caused fatalities particularly among the infected elderly (over 60 years old) with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis, etc.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Standard infection control measures to reduce transmission of respiratory secretions include:
- Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
- Wash your hands frequently especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
- Avoid non-essential travel to China.
- Avoid unprotected contact with farm/wild animals, and eating raw/undercooked meat.
- If you display symptoms of acute respiratory infection, put on a surgical mask.
- Practice coughing/sneezing etiquette – when coughing or sneezing, cover the mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue – dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- In case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, either during or after travel, wear a surgical mask, seek medical attention, and share your travel history with your health care provider.
- Influenza vaccination does NOT confer protection. However, it is advisable to get yourself vaccinated against Influenza if you will be travelling to affected areas. This will prevent you from contracting the virus, resulting in influenza symptoms and signs that may
- Mislead screening authorities at temperature checkpoints, and result in unnecessary anxiety and delays to your travel.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention Using Telemedicine
If you display symptoms of acute respiratory infection, seek prompt medical attention. An alternative to seeing a doctor in a physical clinic is teleconsultation – a safe and legal means of “seeing” a GP via video-consultation in the comfort of your own home. Medicine, if prescribed, is delivered to your address under 3 hours. This way, you can beat the clinic queues and avoid exposure to other sick patients in the clinics.
Doctor World offers 24/7 teleconsultation with medicine delivery at $18nett*. Download the app to enjoy medical convenience and accessibility.
*Price excludes costs of prescribed medication.
Sources and links for more information about 2019-nCoV: