The World Health Organization (WHO) has now proclaimed the proliferation of coronavirus infection as a global emergency. It is not only restricted to China, but has spread to other parts of the world.
As of 3 February 2020, the latest reports suggest that about 20,438 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Mainland China, whereas 181 cases have been reported in other countries. The infection has spread in about 26 different countries, apart from China as of 4 February 2020.
Since the spread of coronavirus is becoming a rapidly evolving situation, we aim to address some of the relevant questions that you may have regarding the recent coronavirus outbreak through this article.
What is the new coronavirus infection?
Coronaviruses comprise a clan of several viruses that can engender conditions as mild as a common cold to serious conditions such as severe respiratory diseases. However, the new strain of coronavirus, known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), has never been identified earlier.
Where did the new coronavirus spread/originate from?
The first case of this new coronavirus infection was recorded in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Many of the individuals identified with the infection had some association with a large animal or seafood market, thereby indicating the spread of infection from animals to humans. However, this hypothesis was short-lived as several new patients of this infection were not exposed to any seafood or animal market, further suggesting a human-to-human transmission of the infection.
What are the signs of coronavirus infection?
The common signs of coronavirus are as follows:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shortness of breath
Severe infection can lead to kidney failure, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and, possibly, death.
When should one get tested for the new coronavirus infection?
One should get tested immediately for coronavirus if they observe abovementioned symptoms in themselves (even persons around) or if they have toured Mainland China (particularly Wuhan and including Hong Kong too) in the last 14 days or if they had recently interacted with a person who had arrived back from Mainland China lately after spending some time there. One should also get tested if they have been showing the symptoms after interacting with a person with coronavirus infection.
How to protect myself and others?
You can employ the following measures for protecting yourself from the infection:
- Refrain from having a close interaction with people who are having a cough or fever.
- Soap or an alcohol-based hand rub/solution or and water should be primarily used for continual washing of hands.
- If you have a cough, fever and difficulty in breathing, then you need to pursue medical attention. You must inform the medical practitioner about your current itinerary (if any).
- Your nose and mouth should be covered with a flexed elbow or tissue while sneezing and coughing. The used tissue needs to be thrown immediately after use, and you must wash your hands as described above.
- You must avoid places (be it a marketplace or locality) that has reported the spread of coronavirus. In case you must visit there out of necessity, avoid direct and unprotected contact with live animals or animal contacted surfaces.
- You need to abstain from eating raw and undercooked animal-based food.
Will wearing a facemask give me protection against the infection?
The healthy individuals of the society are not recommended to wear a facemask due to its inability to shield the individual against getting an infection. However, in case of a sick (infected or isolated) individual who needs to go outside from his/her house/isolation zone, then he/she is strictly advised to wear a facemask to protect others from getting infected.
Is my dog/cat at risk of coronavirus infection?
There is no substantial information currently, which states that whether pets, especially cats/dogs, can be contracted with the new coronavirus.
Can antibiotics be used to treat coronavirus?
Antibiotics are effective against infections caused by bacteria, not viruses. Because coronavirus is caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot be used for its treatment.
Is there any medicine to treat the new coronavirus?
As of today, the medical authorities have not recommended any medicine to prevent or treat the infection. Fortunately, many of the symptoms associated with the infection can be treated. Hence, the treatment for the infection is mainly customized or based on the patient’s clinical condition. Supportive care has shown a high efficacy in infected people.
Spread your new-found knowledge regarding the coronavirus infection to create awareness. This information may help to limit the outbreak of the infection that risks the lives of the people around us!
- UN News. Coronavirus spread now a global emergency declares World Health Organization [Internet]. [updated 2020 Jan 30; cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/01/1056372.
- Centre for Health Protection. Countries/areas with reported cases of novel coronavirus infection [Internet]. [updated 2020 Feb 3; cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/statistics_of_the_cases_novel_coronavirus_infection_en.pdf.
- World Health Organization. Coronavirus [Internet]. [cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently asked questions and answers [Internet]. [updated 2020 Feb 3; cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2019 Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) [Internet]. [updated 2020 Feb 2; cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.
- Queensland Health. Frequently asked questions—novel coronavirus [Internet]. [updated 2020 Feb 2; cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/diseases/coronavirus/public-info-novel-coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions-novel-coronavirus.
- World Health Organization. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public [Internet]. [cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public.
- Australian Government Department of Health. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) [Internet]. [updated 2020 Feb 3; cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov.
- World Health Organization. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public: Myth busters [Internet]. [cited 2020 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters.