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Coronavirus - All you need to know about the global health emergency

Feb 6, 2020
Coronavirus - All you need to know about the global health emergency

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold.

A new coronavirus was identified in China associated with an outbreak of pneumonia. This virus is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has resulted in a number of deaths.


The 2019 nCOV is spread through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

The 2019 nCoV spreads mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.


  • Mild to severe respiratory illness with
  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing

The complete clinical picture with regard to 2019-nCoV is still not fully clear.

Patients with underlying illness and the elderly appear to be at increased risk of severe illness.


Currently travellers to Wuhan, China and other affected areas of China are at greatest risk of infection.

People who develop symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to countries where 2019 Novel Coronavirus is known to be circulating should seek medical care early and share information about travel history with their doctors.


There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection. Transmission is reduced through:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw it away
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • If you are mildly sick, keep yourself hydrated, stay at home, and rest.


Treatment is supportive (e.g. provide oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or treatment for fever).

  • There is no specific antiviral treatment available.
  • Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics maybe required if bacterial secondary infection develops.


Fever screening is in place at international airports.

  • Procedures are in place for case detection, isolation and management for quick diagnosis to be made.
  • All health facilities will be able to manage suspected or confirmed cases and refer to the appropriate referral or designated hospital.
  • Protocols are in place for follow up of case contacts to ensure that the virus does not spread.

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