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What does the Coronavirus outbreak mean for you?

At the end of December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. This novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 belongs to a family of viruses, which includes the common cold, as well as SARS and MERS viruses.

By the end of January, it was reported that more than 7,000 people had been sickened by the Coronavirus and by begininnig of April 2020, this had grown to over 900,000 reported cases in 180 countries/territories around the world, with the outbreak being declared a pandemic on 12th March.

Scientists around the world continue to discover more about the transmissibility, severity and restriction of the Coronavirus, but until we know more, we would encourage you to adopt and promote effective hygiene behaviours that are proven to be effective against the spread of viruses.

How is Coronavirus transmitted and how contagious is it?

People can catch the Coronavirus from others who have the virus. Similar to other respiratory viruses, transmission occurs via droplets produced when a person coughs, sneezes or even exhales. These droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

Additionally, the Coronavirus can be spread if people 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 (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

For confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, but have included: fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is reported that symptoms could appear as long as 14 days after exposure. Some people also experience mild aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. It has also been observed that some infected individuals don’t develop any symptoms and don’t even feel ill.

Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets the Coronavirus 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.

Should you take special Coronavirus precautions?

Many countries now have special measures in place regarding ‘physical distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’. It is recommended that you keep aware by observing the WHO website and your national and the local public health authority for current information.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19), however you can can take certain steps to reduce your chances of infection:

  • Practicing regular good hand hygiene using soap and water, and the use of an alcohol-based hand rub solution (e.g. hand sanitiser) is beneficial in helping prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. This is of particular importance when travelling or working in heavily populated areas such as airports, schools, hospitals etc. If you work in such an environment, it may be prudent to enhance existing hygiene control arrangements.
  • We also suggest using signage to increase the awareness of handwashing at this time – for example posters at critical areas; washrooms, kitchen and eating spaces; implement additional hand sanitiser stations; and increase washroom checks to ensure that hand soap and hand drying facilities are maintained and always available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses that can be transferred to your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Follow good respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, making sure you dispose of the tissue immediately after use – then wash your hands thoroughly and ensure they are completely dry.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing to avoid coming into contact with infected droplets from coughs and sneezes.

Viral testing with this novel Coronavirus against  commercially available products has not yet been carried out due to the availability of the virus to test against – current claims against coronaviruses will relate to that of ‘enveloped viruses’ (viruses with an outer layer at the stage of their life-cycle when they are between host cells) and coronavirus substitutes.

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