The disease caused by the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease.
Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’
The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.
Where did the virus originate?
Chinese health authorities are still trying to determine the origin of the virus, which they say likely came from a seafood market in Wuhan, China where wildlife was also traded illegally.
On February 7, Chinese researchers said the virus could have spread from an infected animal species to humans through illegally-trafficked pangolins, which are prized in Asia for food and medicine.
Scientists have pointed to either bats or snakes as possible sources of the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Sometimes people experience chills and shaking, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or a new loss of sense of taste or smell. In severe cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome. People with chronic health conditions and the elderly are more likely than others to have a life-threatening case of the disease.
How can I prevent getting the new coronavirus?
The World Health Organization has the following recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including the new coronavirus:
1.Frequently clean your hands by using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
2.Practice physical distancing (formerly social distancing, here’s why!) by limiting your time in public places to essential trips, staying at least 6 feet from other people, and not greeting others with a handshake or other touch.
3.When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
4.Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
5.If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share your travel history with your healthcare provider.
6.Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk, and animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, per good food safety practices.
Should I wear a medical mask?
The use of a medical mask is advised if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect others. If you don’t have any symptoms, then there is no need to wear a mask.
If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus.
The use of a mask alone is not enough to stop infections and must be combined with frequent hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, fever).
What should I do if a family member displays symptoms?
You should seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Consider calling ahead to tell your health care provider if you have traveled to an area where COVID-19 has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has traveled from one of these areas and has respiratory symptoms.
Can pregnant women pass coronavirus to unborn children?
At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, or the potential impact this may have on the baby. This is currently being investigated. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, and seek medical care early, if experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with coronavirus?
All mothers in affected and at-risk areas who have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care early, and follow instructions from a health care provider. Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother can continue breastfeeding, while applying all the necessary precautions.
Can antibiotics prevent and treat the new coronavirus?
Like the common cold, there is no specific antibiotic or medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. But people infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive medical care, which may include antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms. Always call before visiting your doctor or health facility. People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home.
On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days. “Countries around the world step up efforts to tackle the new coronavirus that has killed hundreds of thousands.”