According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. As it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses spread in cough droplets.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Coronavirus is highly unlikely to be spread through packages from affected countries or through food.
There’s currently no vaccine or specific treatment for coronavirus. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the infection.
Even so, there are things you can do to help minimise coronavirus spreading. Advice from the NHS & WHO includes :-
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch. Put used tissues in the bin straight away
- Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Advice from WHO is to maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever. When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes, they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
- Should I wear mask to protect myself? Based on the advice from the WHO, wearing a medical mask can help limit the spread of some respiratory disease. However, using a mask alone is not guaranteed to stop infections and should be combined with other prevention measures including hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding close contact – at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people. WHO advises on rational use of medical masks thus avoiding unnecessary wastage of precious resources and potential misuse of masks. This means using masks only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have suspected 2019-nCoV infection with mild symptoms or are caring for someone with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. A suspected 2019-nCoV infection is linked to travel in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or close contact with someone who has traveled from China and has respiratory symptoms.
NHS advises to call 111 if you have been :-
- to Wuhan or Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days (even if you do not have symptoms)
- to other parts of China, including Macau and Hong Kong, in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
- to Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
- in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus
Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital. Call 111, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people. Tell 111 about any recent travel and any symptoms you have. Call 0300 200 7885 if you are in Northern Ireland.
If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to isolate yourself.
This means that for 14 days after returning from China or other specified areas, you should:
- stay at home
- not go to work, school or public areas
- not use public transport or taxis
- ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you
- try to avoid visitors to your home – it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food
While the risk to people in the UK is low, these steps can help reduce the possible spread of infection.
WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.
For more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) you may visit the following sites for more information and updates :covid-19, education, health tips