What Need to Know about China Coronavirus: The Virus, Symptoms and Protection
A new human-to-human respiratory illness, called the coronavirus, has been spreading through China and surrounding countries. Below we answer a few questions: Why are people worried? Should they be? What can you do to protect yourself?
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
The China Coronaviruses is formally called “novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)”, which is in the same family of infections as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Currently, scientists in China and all over the world are still working to confirm the exact source of the virus. China’s Health Commission vice minister Li Bin at a news conference in Beijing said the virus can be passed from person to person, but animals are usually the origin of coronaviruses. The infection is thought to have originated in a seafood market which also sold illegal wildlife meat in Wuhan, which now have been closed and sealed off by local government to limit potential spread.
Beijing also confirmed that the illness is transmitted via the respiratory tract and there is the possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease.
Common human corona viruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives. These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time.
The WHO explained the common signs of coronavirus infection include:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.
WHY ARE PEOPLE WORRIED?
Official figures report only hundreds of confirmed cases. The severity and rapid spread of this case has sparked major concern from global health authorities and an increase in demand for protective pollution masks. In 2002-3 SARS spread across much of China and Asia causing one of the largest public health emergencies in modern times.
Between November 2002 and July 2003 SARS was confirmed to infect over 8,000 people and killed around 10% of those infected. As of Thursday 23rd January 2020 China’s health authorities declared at least 442 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across the country, with 17 new deaths linked to the virus in Hubei, the central Chinese province of which Wuhan is the capital. The WHO was first notified of the Wuhan virus on December 31.
A study by British researchers previously estimated — based on the spread of the virus overseas in a relatively short time — that the number of people infected in Wuhan alone was likely around 1,700.
Officials in Washington, USA have identified 16 “close contacts” of travellers returning from Wuhan who may be the first confirmed cases of coronavirus diagnosed in the United States. Cases have also been confirmed in Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and suspected cases detected in Australia.
So far the death toll is relatively low, and almost all cases involved elderly people with preexisting conditions: of the more than 400 confirmed cases in China, 17 deaths have been reported so far, or 3.38%. By comparison, SARS had a mortality rate of around 10%, and much higher among vulnerable populations.
Since currently there’s no cure for Corona Virus infection, how to protect yourself from it?
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF?
Researchers around the world still looking for the best cure for Coronavirus infection. The US government suggests the best treatment for the infection as:
- Rest and avoid overexertion.
- Drink enough water.
- Avoid smoking and smoky areas.
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and fever.
- Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
- Drink more vitamin C
At the time of writing, The WHO has not recommend any countries to impose restriction of travel or trade, but they do encouraged countries to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies. If you have to travel to China or going to public spaces during this time, you might consider to bring additional protection for yourself and family. The city of Wuhan has shut off their public transport system as of Thursday 23rd January 10am Beijing time in an effort to contain the spread of infection during the busy Chinese New Year period.
The WHO are giving out standard recommendations to prevent infection spread, include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. In addition, try to avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Coronavirus has caused concern in China and beyond by those worried about the potential for this to be a repeat of the SARS period of 2002-3. China and the world’s health bodies have learned a great deal about public health interventions from H1N1, Ebola and other outbreaks in recent years. Information sharing, intergovernmental cooperation and monitoring have all improved massively. There is little risk to the general public.
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