Coronaviruses  belongs to a big part of pathogens, most of which are responsible for mild respiratory infections such as cold. However, this particular virus has been identified as Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) . It is interesting to know that Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is in fact a coronavirus, this virus killed hundreds of people in china and Hong Kong sometime in the early 2000s.

Is it deadly?

Indeed, this virus is not only deadly it is also fatal. so far no fewer than 41 persons have died after testing positive to the infection.

How far has it spread?

So far, the countries that have confirmed cases of the spread of the infection as at  Saturday are about 13. In China where the virus started have recorded about 2000 cases and over 40 cases have been reported across 12 countries such as: Canada (1), Thailand (4), Taiwan (3), Singapore (3), Malaysia (4), Nepal (1), Vietnam(2), Japan(3), France(3), South Korea (2), United States (3), and Australia (4).

What led to the start and spread of this virus?

The very first reported cases of this infection were among persons believed to have a link with the Huanan Seafood market in Wuhan China. There are reports of other cases in other places which experts believe to have been transmitted through human to human contact.

What are the symptoms and how is it detected?

Symptoms of this deadly virus is similar to common cold, it comes with a typical fever, cough and respiratory problems. Pneumonia, a life threatening infection which causes inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs have also been reported by some patients. Chinese scientists have released the sequencing of the virus’s genetics to other countries, so as to enable them detect new cases quickly.

 

Most countries are doing all they can to ensure they contain the spread of the virus by equipping their airports with screening devices to check temperature of people. However, this measure is not as effective as anticipated because viruses are known to have incubation periods, meaning the symptoms may only start showing after the affected person(s) may have exited the airport.

How can you prevent and protect yourself?

As mentioned earlier, most countries around the world like Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore have increased airport surveillance and conducting screening on patients for high temperatures. Other countries like the UK have announced that passengers from Wuhan and other provinces in China will be screened upon entry into the country.

Health officials have also advised people to stay away from public areas to avoid possible spread and transmission of the virus. In addition many have taken it upon themselves to wear masks and gloves to prevent contact.

 

Felicity heads the editorial department at Passports Beyond Borders. She is currently studying for her PhD in History at the University of Malaya.

 

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