The Coronavirus – Symptoms, Protecting Yourself, Travel Advice and Myths
The Coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses known for containing strains that cause potentially deadly diseases in mammals and birds.
In humans, Corona Virus are typically spread via airborne droplets of fluid produced by infected individuals.
More About The Coronavirus
The Corona Virus was first described in details in the 1960s. This virus gets its name from the distinctive corona or” crown ” of sugary-proteins that projects envelope surrounding the particle. Coding virus is a make-up of the largest genome of any RNA – based virus-a single block of nucleic acid about 26,000 32,000 bases in length.
Some rare but significant strains, such as Wuhan coronavirus (2019-ncov) and those responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers), can cause death in humans.
There are four known geniuses in the family, namely; Alphacoronavirus, Betacoronavirus, Gammacoronavirus, and Deltacoronavirus.
The first two infect only mammals, including bats, pigs, cats and humans. Gammacoronavirus mainly infects birds such as poultry, while Deltacoronavirus can infect both birds and mammals.
Symptoms Of The Coronavirus
Corona virus can cause different symptoms in different animals. Although some strains cause diarrhea in pigs and Turkeys, most often infections can be compared to a bad cold, causing mild to moderate upper respiratory problems such as runny nose and sore throat.
There are a handful of deadly exceptions that have had a devastating impact on livestock and human health around the world.
Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nov)
Wuhan coronavirus was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019. As at the time of writing, the number of infected persons is still on the rise and several deaths have been reported globally.
Snakes have been suspected as a possible source of the outbreak, although other experts currently consider it unlikely.
How Doctors Can Tell If Someone Has Coronavirus
Since Chinese scientists released the nCoV genetic series on rhe 10th of January, 2020, laboratories around the world have been able to test patient samples for its presence. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to identify the genetic code of the virus.
However, PCR is slow and requires special equipment, so researchers are rushing to develop faster, cheaper and portable tests. Novacyt, a European diagnostics company, launched one on Friday and it is said to deliver results in 90 minutes.
No Treatment Has Yet Been Found For The Deadly Coronavirus
Already existing drugs are not designed to treat coronaviruses, although some antiviral drugs may relieve symptoms. Chinese doctors give patients HIV drugs, and another antiviral drug developed to treat Ebola has shown promise against coronavirus in animal studies. Clinical experience in China shows if any of these helps against nCoV.
Efforts To Develop Vaccine For Corona Virus is Under Way
Under the auspices of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) in Oslo, a disaster programme has been launched by governments, industry and charities in 2017 to prevent future pandemics.
Cepi has launched four projects using different technologies to prepare candidates for the ncov vaccine. Richard Hatchett, CEO, said the goal is to get one ready for preliminary tests for volunteers in 16 weeks. Even if the program goes well, the vaccine is unlikely to be ready for mass production in less than a year.
Protecting Yourself Against Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
WHO – World Health Organisation’s Advice For The Public On (2019-nCoV)
WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:
- Frequently clean hands 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;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- 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;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Myths and Advice for Everyone on The Coronavirus
Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
There are no evidence to confirm that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.
Does the new corona virus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?
According to the WHO, People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.
The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
Are there any specific medicines known to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?
Unfortunately, to date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care.
Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.
Travel Advice For International Travellers – Coronavirus
The current outbreak originated in Wuhan city, which is a major domestic and international transport hub. Given the large population movements, and the observed human to human transmission, it is not unexpected that new confirmed cases will continue to appear in other areas and countries. With the information currently available for the novel coronavirus, WHO advises that measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease should be implemented, without unnecessary restrictions of international traffic.
Advice for exit screening in countries or areas with ongoing transmission of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV (currently People’s Republic of China)
- Conduct exit screening at international airports and ports in the affected areas, with the aims early detection of symptomatic travellers for further evaluation and treatment, and thus prevent exportation of the disease. while minimizing interference with international traffic;
- Exit screening includes checking for signs and symptoms (fever above 38°, cough), interview of passengers with respiratory infection symptoms leaving the affected areas with regards to potential exposure to high-risk contacts or to the presumed animal source, directing symptomatic travellers to further medical examination, followed by testing for 2019-nCoV, and keeping confirmed cases under isolation and treatment;
- Encourage screening at domestic airports, railway stations, and long-distance bus stations as necessary;
- Travellers who had contact with confirmed cases or direct exposure to potential source of infection should be placed under medical observation. High-risk contacts should avoid travel for the duration of the incubation period (up to 14 days);
- Implement health information campaigns at Points of Entry to raise awareness of reducing the general risk of acute respiratory infections and the measures required, should a traveller develop signs and symptoms suggestive of infection with the 2019-nCoV and how they can obtain assistance.
Advice for entry screening in countries/areas without transmission of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV that choose to perform entry screening
- The evidence from the past outbreaks shows that effectiveness of entry screening is uncertain, but it may support risk communication strategy by providing information to travellers from affected countries/areas to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections, and to seek medical attention early if they develop symptoms compatible with the infection.
- During the current outbreak with the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV, a number of exported cases were detected through entry screening implemented by some countries. Symptomatic cases may be detected through temperature screening at Point of Entry, for whom medical examination and laboratory tests will be conducted for confirmation. Temperature screening to detect potential suspect cases at Point of Entry may miss travellers incubating the disease or travellers concealing fever during travel and may require substantial investments. A focused approach targeting direct flights from affected areas could be more effective and less resource demanding.
- Currently the northern hemisphere (and China) is in the midst of the winter season when Influenza and other respiratory infections are prevalent. When deciding implementation of entry screening, countries need to take into consideration that travellers with signs and symptoms suggestive of respiratory infection may result from respiratory diseases other than 2019-nCoV, and that their follow-up may impose an additional burden on the health system. National policy and capacities should be taken into account during the decision-making process.
- If entry screening is implemented, temperature screening should always be accompanied by dissemination of risk communication messages at Points of Entry. This can be done through posters, leaflets, electronic bulletin, etc, aiming at raising awareness among travellers about signs and symptoms of the disease, and encouragement of health care seeking behavior, including when to seek medical care, and report of their travel history.
- Countries implementing temperature screening are encouraged to establish proper mechanism for data collection and analysis, e.g. numbers of travellers screened and confirmed cases out of screened passengers, and method of screening.
- Public health authorities should reinforce collaboration with airline operators for case management on board an aircraft and reporting, should a traveller with respiratory disease symptoms is detected, in accordance with the IATA guidance for cabin crew to manage suspected communicable disease on board an aircraft.
Previous advice with regards to procedures for a ill traveller detected on board a plane and requirements for IHR capacities at Points of Entry remains unchanged (see WHO Advice published on 10 January 2020).
WHO advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event.
WHO – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Science Alert – https://www.sciencealert.com/coronavirus