It is called novel meaning new, hence its common term is novel coronavirus or 2019 nCoV.
As of this writing, CNN reported that the coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 259 people and infected close to 12,000 people globally, as it continues to spread beyond China. The virus has been confirmed in more than a dozen countries and territories since it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Countries are now sending planes to evacuate their citizens from the infection zone and imposing travel bans or restrictions on travelers from China. Nearly 60 million people are under lockdown in Chinese cities as international researchers race to develop a vaccine and halt its spread.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some cause illness in humans, and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses generally cause mild illness, such as the common cold. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012.
The rise in new coronavirus cases outside China, now constitutes a global health emergency, the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee declared calling on all countries to take urgent measures to contain the respiratory disease. So far, 170 people have died in China and 1,370 cases are officially described as severe. A total of 124 have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Outside China, there are 82 confirmed cases in 18 different countries and only seven had no history of travel in China.
Chinese health officials have reported thousands of infections with 2019-nCoV in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in many parts of that country. Infections with 2019-nCoV, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States. The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.
The Philippines’ first 2019-nCoV case is a 38-year-old woman who traveled to the Philippines from Wuhan, China. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the patient is a 38-year-old woman who traveled to the Philippines from Wuhan, China, via Hong Kong on January 21. She is currently in a government hospital, where she was admitted on January 25, but was no longer showing symptoms.
Why is the nCoV such an alarming illness?
WHO doctors said that currently there are no available vaccines that protect against coronaviruses. There is no simple cure for the new coronaviruses – just as there is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-n-CoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
Human coronavirus strains are spread from person to person through contaminated droplets from a person who is sick with the illness (through coughing or sneezing) or contaminated hands, and generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another. It is likely this novel coronavirus spreads the same way. Most cases have had fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
People who have visited mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan), or who have had contact with an infected person, in the previous 14 days may be at risk of catching the disease. People with underlying illnesses that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease, including those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure, people with suppressed immune systems and the elderly may be at a higher risk of serious disease.
How is it prevented?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends measures to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while travelling in or from affected areas by: avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections; frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment; avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals; people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (keep away from other people, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds). Make sure you stay home if you are sick.
Do face masks protect against the virus? Which face masks?
Face masks are not recommended for the general population. People who have symptoms and might be infected with novel coronavirus are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else. Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected novel coronavirus should use P2 masks to protect against the virus, but these must be fit tested and worn properly.
Do I need to quarantine myself if I have returned from holiday in China?
If you have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days you should stay at home and isolate yourself from for 14 days after you left China. You should watch out for symptoms. If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to an affected area, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Let’s pray our country won’t be a haven for the dreaded nCoV.
Stay healthy, fellas. ●