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).
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. SARS-CoV was transmitted from cats to humans and MERS-CoV from camels to humans.
Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. When the virus spreads to humans it undergoes changes that allow it to be transmitted from humans to humans.
Signs and symptoms
Common signs of infection include:
- » respiratory symptoms
- » fever
- » cough
- » shortness of breath
- » breathing difficulties
In more severe cases, infection can cause:
- » pneumonia,
- » severe acute respiratory syndrome,
- » kidney failure and even death.
As this is a new virus, there is no vaccine available for prevention yet. As a result, practising the following reduces one’s risk:
- » Regular washing of hands with soap under running water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- » Covering mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing. Wash hands afterwards and discard the tissue.
- » Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
- » Avoid unprotected close contact with anyone with fever and cough, and seek medical care if you have a fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.
- » If you become sick while traveling, inform the crew, seek medical attention and share your travel history
- » Avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
There is no cure and no specific nCoV treatment for patients with suspected or confirmed cases. Therefore the mainstay of management is:
- » Immediate implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures. This includes quarantining suspects and contacts for 14 days.
- » Early supportive therapy and monitoring
- » Management of respiratory problems
- » Prevention of complications
Source: Ministry of Health/WHO