What is novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. Severe diseases have included:
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
The novel coronavirus is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It had not been detected before this outbreak.
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
A number of clinical symptoms have been reported in identified cases of novel coronavirus. These symptoms include:
- Respiratory illness symptoms such as a cough, fatigue, sore throat or headache
- Difficulty breathing
Anyone with these symptoms who has travelled to or through China in the past 14 days should contact a GP immediately. Please call ahead and advise of your symptoms and recent travel before your appointment so the clinic can take necessary precautions.
People with suspected novel coronavirus will be tested and may also need to have a chest x-ray.
The coronavirus is most likely spread from person to person through:
- direct close contact with a person while they are infectious;
- contact with droplets when a person with a confirmed infection coughs or sneezes.
- touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that has droplets from a cough or sneeze by an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face
There is no specific treatment for 2019-nCoV infection. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections. However, most of the symptoms can be treated with supportive medical care. There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus.
To protect yourself and others from infection, practice good hand and respiratory hygiene including:
- Cleaning hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding contact with anyone who has symptoms of respiratory illness such as a cough, fatigue, sore throat or headache
- Staying home if you are unwell with flu type symptoms (isolate yourself for 14 days).
Remember, a facemask will not protect you against becoming infected. If you are unwell or are in isolation and you need to go outside, you should wear a facemask to protect others.