29 Jan 2020
Here's how you can protect yourself from coronavirus infection
Over the past month, a deadly coronavirus infection has spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan to over a dozen countries around the world.
Although no cases have been confirmed in India yet, here are some precautionary measures you should take.
First, let's understand what is a coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The virus typically causes respiratory illnesses.
The novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus never seen before in humans. The strain responsible for the current outbreak is called 2019-nCoV (2019 novel coronavirus) or the Wuhan coronavirus.
How does the coronavirus transmit?
The coronavirus is largely found in animals. However, it is known to transmit between animals and humans.
E.g., the SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans while the MERS-CoV was transmitted from dromedary camels to humans.
The 2019-nCoV possibly originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
The virus can be transmitted upon close contact and can spread between humans as well.
How can you protect yourself from an infection?
As a precautionary measure, wash your hands with soap and water frequently or use an alcohol-based hand cleanser.
Clean your hands: After you cough/sneeze, before and after cooking, before eating, after using the toilet, after coming into contact with a sick person, after handling animals or animal waste, etc.
Avoid close contact with anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Cough/sneeze into your elbow or a tissue (and discard it immediately).
Here are some other precautions to bear in mind
If you're wearing a mask, avoid touching it once it's on. Also, discard single-use masks properly and wash your hands afterward.
When cooking, use different knives and chopping boards for raw meat and cooked foods. Also, thoroughly cook eggs and meat.
When traveling, eat properly cooked food. If you feel sick, seek medical attention immediately and share your travel history with the healthcare provider.
Is there a treatment for the new coronavirus?
There is no specific treatment, medicine, or vaccine for 2019-nCoV since it is a new virus.
However, symptoms of the infection can be treated.
Commonly, the infection leads to symptoms such as fever, cough, breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it may cause pneumonia, organ failure or death.
Notably, 103 people have been cured of the virus in China, health authorities announced on Wednesday.
Precautions if you work at a market selling dead/live animals:
If you work at a market that sells dead or live animals, avoid contact with sick animals, spoiled meat, waste fluids in the market, etc. Wear protective gear while handling animals. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.