What is this virus? Who is at risk?
The virus behind the outbreak at Wuhan city in the Hubei province of China is said to be a new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, a new strain of the coronavirus. It has been confirmed that the infection can be passed from person to person, and is particularly dangerous for people who have weakened immune systems, like younger children and older adults.
The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) definition of suspect cases that will be referred to hospitals include persons with:
- Pneumonia symptoms (fever, coughing and breathing difficulties) and travel history to China within 14 days before onset of symptoms; or
- Acute respiratory infection who had been to any hospital in China, within 14 days before onset of symptoms.
What should I look out for?
At present, the virus is still being studied and the WHO is looking closely into the causes and symptoms specific to COVID-19. However, symptoms to look out for include fever and symptoms associated with fevers and colds such as a runny nose, headache, cough a, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.
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 distress syndrome, and kidney failure.
How can I protect myself?
- Avoid contact with people displaying symptoms similar to those of pneumonia or the common cold, like coughing or runny noses.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when possible.
- Drink more water and get enough sleep to boost your immunity.
Will getting a Flu shot help?
The Influenza vaccine only protects against strains of influeza, of which the coronavirus is not. Unfortunately there is no vaccine for coronavirus at the moment, so exercising caution and practising good personal hygiene is extremely important.
As it is also the peak influenza period, it is always advisable to get your regular influenza vaccines to prevent infection.
I think I have the virus, what should I do?
If you, or any of your friends or family are showing symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus, seek medical attention immediately and inform your doctor of your recent travel history.
Also, disinfect surfaces the person has touched, and reduce contact with others to reduce the risk of infection.