In December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified by China that 41 people in Wuhan, the country’s seventh most populous city, had been hospitalized with what appeared to be a mystery strain of pneumonia. Many were reported to be workers in or visitors to a live animal market. However, in a January 9, 2020 media statement[i], the WHO said that information about the cases of pneumonia provided by Chinese authorities– including the occupation, location and symptom profile of the people affected – pointed to a coronavirus as a possible pathogen causing this cluster. laboratory tests ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus and other common respiratory pathogens.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less-severe disease, such as the common cold, and others more severe disease such as MERS and SARS. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others do not.
This particular strain in Wuhan was later confirmed to be an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus( COVID-19).
The most common symptoms[ii] of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
HOW IS IT SPREAD
The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter away from a person who is sick.
WHAT IS THE MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM?
Fast forward to April, 14h, 2020[iii], more than 1 844 863 confirmed cases and 117 021 confirmed deaths in 213 countries, areas or territories around the world.
There is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. However, Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.