February 05, 2020

Ways to Be Safe From 2019-nCoV Outbreak

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  • In the history of disease outbreaks, the world has encountered some of the worst epidemics for the past hundreds of centuries—from dengue and cholera to Ebola, influenzas, and more.

    Recently, a new viral outbreak emerged in Wuhan, China affecting thousands of people worldwide. The rapid rise of cases of the Novel Coronavirus acute respiratory disease—or widely known as 2019-nCoV, has alarmed the world making it an international health concern.

    While there is still more information yet to be discovered about the newly-emerged deadly virus, here’s a basic guideline on what the disease is and how you can protect yourself from it.

    What we know about 2019-nCoV so far

    The 2019-nCoV is a new strain of coronavirus that came from the same family of viruses found in animals and humans such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

    Coronavirus illustration/IMAGE Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

    The outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019 with 44 cases of patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology. It is suspected to have originated from a live animal market in Wuhan.

    Soon after, national authorities in China confirmed that 2019-nCoV can be spread via human-to-human transmission either through respiratory droplets or close contact with infected people.

    The viral infection can cause mild symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever that can possibly lead to pneumonia, difficulty in breathing, or death. In some cases, it can be asymptomatic or shows no symptoms.

    In January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” This is brought by the rapid increase of confirmed cases and deaths in China that has also spread in countries such as Japan, Thailand, the USA, Germany, UAE, and the Philippines among others. 

    A suspected 2019-nCoV infection is usually linked to travel in areas in China with confirmed cases or close contact with people who have travel history from China.

    Countries with suspected and/or confirmed cases have also closed their borders to Chinese visitors to prevent further spread of the virus.

    Also read: Duterte Extends Temporary Travel Ban on Visitors from China, HK, Macau

    Basic ways to protect yourself

    As of writing, there is no medicine or vaccine to treat the 2019-nCoV yet. For the meantime, WHO advised the public to take protective measures to help prevent further spread of the outbreak:

    • Practice hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with a 70% alcohol-based hand rub solution or soap and water. This kills the virus on your hands.
    • Observe proper cough etiquette. When coughing and sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Immediately discard the tissue in a closed bin and wash hands properly.
    • Avoid crowds and maintain at least 1 meter or 3 feet distance from people showing flu-like symptoms or respiratory illness. Keeping a safe distance from people who are infected with respiratory disease will prevent you from breathing in droplets containing the virus.
    • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Your hands may touch many surfaces that can be contaminated with the virus. Touching your face—particularly the eyes, nose, and mouth—enables the virus to enter your body. Wash your hands thoroughly if you must.
    • Use a face mask if you have coughs and colds. Wearing a medical mask is one of the preventive measures to limit the spread of certain respiratory diseases, including 2019-nCoV. When using face masks, make sure to follow proper use and disposal.

    Reduce your risk of coronavirus infection

    World Health Organization (WHO)さんの投稿 2020年1月23日木曜日

    For people who have mild respiratory problems and no travel history in China, WHO advised them to practice basic hand and respiratory hygiene and stay at home until fully recovered. This also goes for people who are traveling.

    Further, if you have a fever, cough or difficulty in breathing, it is better to seek medical care as early as possible and discuss previous travel history to your doctor.

    As research and investigation on 2019-nCoV are currently being conducted by medical professionals, it is better to keep oneself safe starting with strengthening the immune system and practicing basic hygiene.

    Sources: World Health Organization, Department of Health
    Featured image grabbed from Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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