The coronavirus outbreak has been front-page news for a while now, bringing awareness and concern around the infection. But, what exactly is the coronavirus and what precautions should you take?
What is it?
While scientists have discovered a tremendous amount of information about past and present viruses in the world, the coronavirus is still a relatively ‘new’ epidemic. Generally speaking, though, a coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous.
However, the current outbreak seems to be a new strand of coronavirus, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The World Health Organisation is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.
Where is it most prominent?
China is the country which seems to be at the core of the current outbreak. However, cases have been recorded in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, Italy, France and the United States, with all cases involving patients who had not been to China. The worldwide death toll (at the time of writing) is 3,311, with 96,979 confirmed cases in 87 countries and territories.
The first case of the coronavirus has officially been confirmed in South Africa with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirming that South Africa was working with the WHO and other institutions to help diagnose the virus, called COVID-19, across Africa.
South Africa’s announcement that a case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the country makes it the third sub-Saharan country to report the infection. Senegal has reported one case, while Nigeria has reported four, to date.
What can you do about it?
The symptoms and signs of the coronavirus can be quite subtle (coughing, sore throat, etc), unless the coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs). This can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease, or people with weakened immune systems.
What to Do About Coronavirus
There is no vaccine for coronavirus. To help prevent a coronavirus infection, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are infected.
You treat a coronavirus infection the same way you treat a cold:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids.
- Take over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat and fever. But don’t give aspirin to children or teens younger than 19; use ibuprofen or acetaminophen instead.
A humidifier or steamy shower can also help ease a sore and scratchy throat.
Even when a coronavirus causes MERS or SARS in other countries, the kind of coronavirus infection common outside of those notable territories isn’t a serious threat for an otherwise healthy adult. If you get sick, treat your symptoms and contact a doctor if they get worse or don’t go away.