Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. The new strain of coronavirus was first reported in December 2019 and has been named Coronavirus (COVID-19), ‘novel coronavirus’ and ‘2019-nCov’.
Other coronaviruses include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. People with coronavirus may experience fever,
flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly.
Those at highest risk are those who have recently been in mainland China and Iran, or have been in been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of coronavirus.
The elderly and people with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease may be at risk of a more severe disease if infected.
Evidence suggests that the virus is spread from person to person. This most likely happens through:
Wearing surgical masks when out in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others.
If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a surgical mask as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission in public.
It’s important to practise good hygiene to prevent the spread and contraction of infections. This includes:
Read more about protective measures against coronavirus on the World Health Organization website. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
If you have a confirmed case, you need to isolate yourself to prevent it spreading to other people.
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COV-19 survives on surfaces, but studies suggest coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
If you become unwell and think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, seek medical attention. Book an appointment ahead of time and be sure to tell your doctor about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has coronavirus. It is advisable to wear a surgical mask to protect others.