17 years after the deadly SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and 7 years after the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) Coronavirus, the world is once again facing the threat of a deadly pandemic.
What we know about the Wuhan Coronavirus
Officially known as the 2019 – Novel Coronavirus (nCoV), Wuhan Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus transmitted to humans by animals. It was at the end of December 2019 when cases of pneumonia-like Chinese virus were reported to the World Health Organization. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)x, as well as other health leaders around the world immediately retraced the first case of Coronavirus. Based on preliminary reports, it has been identified to originate from a snake in a seafood market place in the sprawling City of Wuhan, China.
What Exactly is Wuhan Coronavirus and How Can We Prevent It?
Unlike the ordinary flu, the Novel Coronavirus is a new virus we’ve never seen before. Coming from the same virus family as the SARS and MERS, it proves to be just as complex and lethal. As of writing, there is no cure or vaccine available for those who are infected.
The symptoms of Wuhan Coronavirus range from mild body ache to deadly pneumonia. It also includes some respiratory symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and swelling in the lungs. According to theWorld Health Organization, the virus can also cause diarrhea, kidney failure, and even death.
Some Common Symptoms:
- High Fever
- Sore throat
- Cough and Cold
- Difficulty breathing
People with underlying health conditions including low immune systems are deemed to be at high-risk to get infected by the rapidly spreading virus. Chinese experts even announced a rather alarming fact – the virus can spread even before the symptoms are visible, making it deceptively contagious.
Confirmed cases around the world:
As of January 27, the rapidly spreading virus has killed 80 people while the confirmed cases have reached almost 2,800 worldwide. So far, the youngest patient suffering from the disease is a nine-month-old girl.
- Mainland China (2,744)
- Macau (6)
- Hong Kong (8)
- Taiwan (5)
- Japan (4)
- Vietnam (2)
- Malaysia (4)
- France (3)
- Nepal (1)
- Australia (5)
- South Korea (4)
- United States (5)
- Canada (1)
Novel Coronavirus in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed 5 cases of Novel Coronavirus in the United States. Geographically, the infected persons are located in: Arizona (1), Washington (1), Illinois (1), and California (2). All of them have recent travel history from the outbreak epicenter – Wuhan, China. The 5 patients have also tested positive after their blood and respiratory examinations. There are still 73 suspected patients awaiting testing results.
Prevention Tips According to WHO
Like the 2012-MERSCoV, there is still no specific vaccine available for Novel Coronavirus. The public is then called to remain vigilant and practice extra precautions in order to avoid getting infected.
Here are some useful tips to follow to avoid getting the disease:
- Cover your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough.Similar to most viruses, the Novel Coronavirus can be transmitted by droplets through sneezing and coughing. Make sure to cover your mouth with a clean handkerchief whenever you feel the need to sneeze or cough. If handkerchief is unavailable, use the sleeve of your blouse or the insides of your flexed elbow as cover. Used tissues must be thrown away immediately.
- Wash your hands as frequently as you can.WHO advises the usage of alcohol-based sanitizer, soap or water when cleaning the hands.
- Practice hand and face hygiene.As much as possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
- Stay away from public places. Parks, restaurants, beaches, malls, and groceries are some places where diverse people from all walks of life lurk.
- Maintain distance with anyone ill. It is critical to limit close contact with those suffering from flu-like symptoms such as common cold and fever.
- Avoid close contact with strangers. Shaking hands and touching strangers are often done for hospitality purposes. However, it is recommended to skip these traditions to reduce the risks of getting or spreading the virus.
- Use protective gear when visiting public markets. Use gloves and masks when touching live animals where Novel Coronavirus patients have been identified.
- Do not consume raw or undercooked animal meat. Handle animal products such as raw meat, animal organs, and milk with utmost care to avoid cross-contamination.
- Avoid traveling when sick. It is advisable to stay at home when feeling ill as the opposite may worsen your fever. Severe sinus, nose and ear infection are some sickness you can easily spread when you travel.
- Get enough sleep. Viruses tend to attack those with immunodeficiency disorders. Without adequate sleep, your body won’t have enough time to recharge and your immune system would quickly weaken.
- Eat healthy food. Load your diet with green and leafy vegetables. Berries, broccoli, spinach, and ginger are highly-nutritious food that helps our bodies fight common illnesses. Aside from citrus fruits, red bell pepper are also rich in vitamin C which is needed to boost your immune system.
- Stay informed. Awareness is the first step to yours and your family’s safety. Make use of the power of technology to stay updated with the latest medical news and critical illnesses.
What should I do in case I get infected?
Novel Coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world despite the efforts of numerous health experts to contain it and strengthen quarantine areas. Travel bans have also been ordered by several countries to avoid potential exposure to the virus. If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China or had close contact with someone who did – there’s a high chance that you get infected even before you see the actual symptoms.
Here’s everything you should do if you find yourself in this difficult situation:
- Contact your local health centers immediately. Call the nearest emergency centers INSTEAD OF going directly to them. If you believe that you have been infected with Novel Coronavirus, you can’t risk spreading the virus to a public place like a hospital. There are trained health workers who will fetch you from your area under standard protocols while using protective gear to counter further contagion.
- Be honest with your medical provider. Total honesty with your doctor can actually save your life when you are facing a deadly virus like the Novel Coronavirus. It’s critical to reveal your most recent travel history and health conditions to medical specialists so that they can give you appropriate treatment. Hiding things from the doctors would only result in worse complications.
- Follow the standard quarantine procedures. The incubation period of Novel Coronavirus persons under observation or patients often lasts from 2-10 days.
How can we cure it? Is there a vaccine?
There is currently no cure or antiviral available to fight the Novel Coronavirus. But, China has already propagated the genetic code of the virus to other countries. This paved the way for international outbreak scientists to work on a possible vaccine. For now, the health workers are more focused on isolating the patients and containing the virus in designated areas. Since the Novel Coronavirus causes viral pneumonia, the best thing doctors can do is to support a patient’s lung and other organs.