On 9th January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported the first discovery of the Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This particular coronavirus is associated with an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The most recent reports from China revealed that almost 9,900 people have been infected and over 200 people have died from the virus.
Since the initial outbreak, 2019-nCoV has continued to spread, with several countries worldwide reporting cases of the virus. What’s more, the UK government recently confirmed that multiple patients in England have tested positive for 2019-nCoV.
As of 31st January 2020, the WHO has officially designated the 2019-nCoV outbreak as a global public health emergency, while the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk of the virus to the public from low to moderate. Review this guidance for an overview of coronaviruses and best practices for reducing your 2019-nCoV risks.
What Is a Coronavirus?
According to health professionals, coronaviruses are common in animal species, and most don’t affect humans. As of now, only seven different coronaviruses are known to infect humans. Human coronaviruses typically cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illness, and those affected exhibit flu-like symptoms.
Symptoms can appear between two and 14 days after contracting the virus. The most common symptoms include:
Some human coronaviruses—including 2019-nCoV—can cause more severe complications. In these cases, initial flu-like symptoms may progress into life-threatening conditions, including bronchitis and pneumonia. These complications are more common in people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, infants and those with long-term health conditions (eg diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease).
Because it is a new and evolving illness, health professionals cannot confirm exactly how the 2019-nCoV spreads from person to person. However, previous cases of human coronaviruses spread via contact with respiratory pathogens (eg sneezing and coughing). There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for 2019-nCoV.
Best Practices for Reducing 2019-nCoV Risks
In response to the outbreak, the NHS recently released the following best practices for reducing 2019-nCoV risks:
- Avoid all but essential travel to China. If you must travel to the area, you should regularly wash your hands with soap and water, avoid visiting animal or bird markets, and restrict contact with anyone who appears ill.
- If you have returned from China in the last 14 days, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people. Contact NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travels. If you live in Northern Ireland, call your GP.