Coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus infection include fever and cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In the event that cases start to appear in your community, or if you are travelling to an infected area, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of becoming infected. Equally important: what can you do to prevent the spread of the virus to other people in the event that you do become infected, helping to halt the spread of the outbreak?
SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China. Typical symptoms are the same as for other coronaviruses and include a cough, sneezing, shortness of breath, and/or a fever. The coronavirus, like other respiratory viruses, can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Information about the global and local situations on the spread of the virus can be found on this map developed by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
How does the coronavirus spread?
Currently the suspected source of the virus is a market in Wuhan selling live animals. Scientists believe the virus probably jumped species from animals to humans and is now spreading from person to person. It is assumed that the routes of transmission from person to person are the same as for colds and influenza viruses:
Surfaces which, if contaminated by droplets of infected mucous shed from the nose, are most likely to spread infections include frequent touch surfaces such as handkerchiefs and tissues, tap and door handles, telephones, mobile devices, television remotes etc.
Currently there is no information on which pathway/s are the most important for spreading coronavirus, so we must assume that all 3 may be involved
In time it is likely that an effective vaccine will be available. Meanwhile, public health agencies worldwide believe that the support of the public will play a crucial role in halting the spread of the epidemic.
There are a number of things you can do to help protect you from becoming infected which can really work. The more people who follow the advice, the greater the impact on preventing spreading the infection. Tackling this outbreak is everyone’s responsibility!
Here are some things you should do, in particular if you live in an infected area:
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as you can, even though this is something we do all the time without realising;
Health agencies are advising anyone who a) is experiencing respiratory symptoms and b) has visited an infected area within the past 14 days, to contact their local medical facility by phone and mention your symptoms and your recent travel to the infected area.
Good respiratory hygiene, together with other measures reduces the risks or spread of infection to others. This means:
* When using (hand)disinfectant products for COVID-19 infections or prevention, it is important to check that the products used are effective against viruses. Read the label before use and follow use instructions closely.
Other things which can help to prevent the spread of the virus, are:
The best thing to protect yourself is to wash your hands regularly and keep a physical distance of 1.5 meters from others. If you have to cough or sneeze, do it in a tissue or in your elbow. You do not wear a face mask to protect yourself, but mainly to protect others. The face mask must meet certain criteria to provide this protection, but above all it must be used appropriately.
Wearing a face mask helps to limit the spread of coronavirus, but only if you wear the mask correctly. Put on, take off, wear, wash and store are actions that you must do with the necessary care.
Putting on the face mask:
Wearing the face mask:
To take off the face mask:
In addition, it is important to pay attention to the hygiene of the mask. For non-medical face masks that are intended to be used more than once:
Storing the mask:
And remember: antibiotics do NOT work against viral infections!