There are various reports of an outbreak of respiratory illness caused due to novel or new coronavirus, named as 2019-nCoV. The virus firstly got detected in Wuhan city of Hubei Province, China, and it continues to expand.
Chinese health care officials reported tens of thousands of infections with novel coronavirus in China, with it reportedly spreading from person-to-person in several parts of the country. 2019-nCoV infections, associated with passengers traveling from Wuhan, also are being reported in many countries, including the United States.
The first confirmed case of person-to-person spread in America was reported on January 30, 2020. On the same day, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of WHO declared the outbreak of an international concern public health emergency.
Coronavirus is from a group of viruses that are found in many different species of animals such as cats, bats, cattle, and camels. Animal coronavirus rarely infects people and then spread between them as MERS, SARS, and 2019-nCoV.\\
What are the sources of Coronavirus?
China’s health authorities post the full genome of the 2019-nCoV in GenBank, Global Initiative on Sharing Influenza Data portal, and in the NIH genetic sequence database, which facilitates the detection of coronavirus.
The novel coronavirus is a beta-coronavirus, like SARS and MERS, both of which originated from bats.
The sequences found in USA patients are the same as the ones that were initially posted by China, suggesting a recent single emergence of this virus from a reservoir of animals.
The earliest source of the virus was an animal-to-person spread, with most of the patients in the outbreak of respiratory illness in Wuhan, China linked to seafood or live animal market. Later there was a person-to-person spread with a large number of patients reportedly having no exposure to animals or live markets.
Countries other than China also report person-to-person spread, including the United States.
What is the situation in the USA regarding Coronavirus?
The American health care experts detected cases of 2019-nCoV infections in travelers. The closed contacts of people returned from Wuhan found to have a person-to-person spread of the coronavirus. Currently, novel coronavirus is not spreading in the United States.
The government of our country is taking unprecedented steps related to passengers and travel in response to growing public health threats posed by the novel coronavirus. These steps include suspended entry in the country of foreign nationals who have a visit to China within the past 14 days.
How severe does Coronavirus cause the illness?
Coronavirus results in severe respiratory illness, including MERS and SARS, that can cause dangerous effects in people. Health authorities still not wholly understand the clinical picture concerning 2019-nCoV. Reported illness ranges from mild to severe, including deaths.
The 2019-nCoV infections have reported illnesses ranging from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms of novel coronavirus include:
- Short of breath
These symptoms may appear within 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Many investigations are taking place to know more about the virus, its symptoms, the severity of illness, and treatment.
What are the risks associated with Coronavirus?
Outbreaks of novel coronavirus infections among people are public health concerns. The risks from outbreaks depend upon the nature and characteristics of the virus, including its spread, severity of illness, and the medical and non-medical measures available to control the impacts of infection such as vaccines or treatment medications.
The 2019-nCoV pose a high potential public health threat, both globally and to the United States.
It is not clear how the situation is going to unfold as it is dependent on the exposure. At this time, some people have an increased risk of exposure and infection, such as health care workers and closed contacts of people with 2019-nCoV. Currently, the immediate danger for the general American public is comparatively low.
What does the Government recommend to the public?
While the immediate risk of novel coronavirus is low at this point for the American public, everyone should do their best to help us respond to this emerging public health threat. The government of the United States recommends the following measures for the public:
- It is a flu season, and it is advisable to take a flu vaccine and take day-to-day preventative steps to stop the spread of germs and also take flu antivirals if prescribed.
- If you are a health care provider, lookout for people who recently traveled from China and have respiratory symptoms or fever
- If you are a public health responder or a health care provider caring for a novel coronavirus patient, please take good care of yourself too ad follow all the recommendations regarding the infection control procedure.
- People who had close contact with someone having an infection of 2019-nCoV and developed its symptoms should contact their healthcare provider or doctor and tell them about their exposure and symptoms.
- People with 2019-nCoV are requested to follow health care guidance on how to reduce the chances of spreading their illness to others.
What are the precautions to be followed?
Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. Avoid being exposed to the virus to prevent the infection. However, several everyday precautions will also help prevent the spread of the respiratory virus, including:
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, and/or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid leaving home when you are sick
- Habitually cover your sneeze or cough with a paper tissue and throw it in the dustbin
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects using a household cleaning wipe or spray
- Use a facemask in the areas crowded with animals or humans, such as live markets, roads, etc.
Wash your hands with water and soap for at least 15-20 seconds, especially:
- After using washroom
- Before and after eating
- After coughing or sneezing
- After blowing your nose
- In case you don’t have soap and water readily available, you can also use an alcohol sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Take all the precautionary measures and preventive steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the growing 2019-nCoV infections.