Yesterday, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, had confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus infection in a 30-year-old man who had recently travelled to Wuhan. Though the symptoms were mild, the man was immediately hospitalised and is currently recovering.
The city of Macau, Hong Kong, confirmed its first case of the Wuhan coronavirus today after a 52-year-old woman was diagnosed with the virus. The woman was immediately hospitalised when she complained of pneumonia-like symptoms on Tuesday. She had travelled to Macau from China on Jan 19.
As of January 20, almost 300 confirmed cases of this infection along with 6 deaths have been reported. The virus had already spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
CDC has expressed concerns on how quickly the virus is evolving. A lot of people who recently showed up with the disease did not have any contact with animals. China has already confirmed its first human-to-human transmission case. Since nobody knows how quickly it can spread from humans yet, anybody who is travelling to the affected areas is being cautioned to avoid contact with a person who seems sick.
Here is what this new coronavirus is and how you can stay safe from it.
The coronavirus family
Coronavirus is not a single virus but a huge family of viruses that can cause a lot of mild to life-threatening diseases including common cold and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Most commonly, these viruses affect animals. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), many strains of coronavirus don’t spread to humans. However, 7 coronavirus strains can pass to humans.
Among these, SARS and MERS (middle east respiratory syndrome) viruses are highly pathogenic and readily spread from person to person.
The Wuhan coronavirus is a new strain that showed up in the seafood market in Wuhan and had not shown human to human transmission until recently.
Coronavirus infection shows up in the form of cough, fever, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulty. In severe cases, the condition progresses to pneumonia, kidney failure or death.
Diagnosis is done through serological tests which are blood tests that look for antibodies and/or viral DNA in your blood (ELISA and RT-PCR).
Treatment mainly includes symptomatic management. Patients may be given medicines to control the fever, cough and sore throat.
Since there is no vaccine against coronaviruses, the CDC lists the following preventive measures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the infection:
- Avoid coming in close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands properly with soap and water.
- Do not touch your mouth or nose with unwashed hands.
- If you are sick, use a tissue every time you sneeze. Properly discard the used tissues in a closed dustbin and then wash your hands properly.
- Use a good disinfectant to clean all the surfaces in your house.
Apart from this, the WHO has asked all healthcare practitioners to maintain a high level of clinical suspicion and wear gloves and masks when dealing with any suspected patient. If possible, keep a separate team for dealing with suspected cases to avoid transmission risk. Make sure to maintain good ventilation in the general ward and keep the beds at a distance of 1 meter, minimum.
For more information, read our article on Coronavirus: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis and Treatment.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
Updated Date: Jan 22, 2020 15:13:38 IST