Coronavirus: What you need to know and how to protect yourselves

Beijing United Family Hospital gives a break down of the virus, what symptoms to look out for and how to protect yourselves

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
According to the WHO (World Health Organization):

What it is

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A novel Coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of Coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

Symptoms to look out for

It depends on the virus, but common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, an infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

Can Coronaviruses be transmitted from person to person?

Yes. Some Coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household, workplace, or healthcare center.

Is there a vaccine for the novel Coronavirus?

When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.

Is there a treatment for the novel Coronavirus?

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by the novel Coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s specific clinical condition. Supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

What can I do to protect myself?

Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses include:
  • maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene;
  • safe food practices, and
  • avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing.
Winter and spring are the high incidence seasons for respiratory infectious diseases and viral pneumonia. Experts suggest to take the same precautions as avoiding a cold, including proper indoor ventilation and personal hygiene, avoiding activities in crowded places, and wearing a mask or covering the nose when coughing or sneezing.

Pay close attention to fever, cough, and other symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please promptly seek medical attention. Travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share travel history with their healthcare provider if they are experiencing any symptoms suggestive of a respiratory illness either during or after travel.

Are health workers at risk from a novel Coronavirus?

Yes, they can be, as health care workers come into contact with patients more often than the general public. WHO recommends that healthcare workers consistently apply appropriate infection prevention and control measures.

More information at Beijing United Family Hospital's official website here.

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