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  • The 'Novel' Coronavirus Can Spread Through Human Contact. How To Keep Yourself Safe

    The coronavirus shows similar symptoms as the flu.
    by Kitty Elicay .
The 'Novel' Coronavirus Can Spread Through Human Contact. How To Keep Yourself Safe
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  • After a new strain of coronavirus called 2019 ‘novel’-coronavirus (2019 nCoV) was discovered in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, a total of more than 400 cases from China and other countries like Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the United States have also been confirmed. And now the Philippines is awaiting confirmation on whether the new strain has reached the country.

    The Department of Health (DOH) disclosed on January 21, 2020 that they are currently investigating a 5-year-old Chinese boy who was admitted in Cebu City after showing coronavirus symptoms like fever, throat irritation, and cough before entering the Philippines. The boy, who came from Wuhan, China, tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). However, he tested positive for “non-specific pancorona virus assay,” which means that he may be infected with one of the other five existing strains of coronavirus, including the 2019 n-CoV.

    In a press conference, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that they have sent samples to Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain.

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    What is a coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections like MERS and SARS. The 2019 nCOV is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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    "What we know is it causes pneumonia and then doesn't respond to antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising, but then in terms of mortality, SARS kills 10% of the individuals," said Leo Poon, a virologist at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong, and who first decoded the virus told CNN.

    What are the signs and symptoms?

    Common signs of coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

    Is the 2019 nCOV contagious?

    Coronaviruses are known to be “zoonotic,” which means they are transmitted between animals and people. SARS was found to be transmitted from civet cats to humans, while MERS can be transmitted from camels to humans.

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    According to the DOH, the new coronavirus strain was thought to be transmitted through animal contact but recent reports show human to human transmission of 2019 nCoV. A report by The Independent says China’s national health commission task force found that medical workers who were presumed to have had contact with nCov patients have also tested positive for the virus.

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    How can I prevent coronavirus from spreading?

    In a press conference facilitated by the DOH, WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe says that the “WHO is working with member states to better understand this disease. We still need to understand better the mode of transmission and what needs to be done specifically for management.”

    Since the coronavirus presents respiratory symptoms that are common during flu season. It is important that you and your family members practice good hygiene. The DOH advises frequent handwashing (using soap and water) and practicing proper cough etiquette —maintaining distance and covering coughing and sneezing with a tissue or the crook of your elbow. It is best to avoid close contact with people showing cold or flu-like symptoms.

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    Because the source of the nCoV is still unclear, the DOH advises to make sure that food is well-cooked before consumption. It is also best to avoid unprotected contact with farm and wild animals.

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    How severe is 2019 nCoV?

    A total of six deaths related to the virus have been confirmed, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Dr. Abeyasinghe says that reports show that three of them have exhibited other preexisting or severe health conditions that could have contributed to their outcome.

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    “It’s too early now to say that it is a very severe infection that causes death. We are in the early stages of trying to understand how severe this infection is, [and] how many deaths it is likely to cause,” Dr. Abeyasinghe said.

    He adds that individuals should not be anxious unless they have traveled to Wuhan starting December 8, when the first symptoms of the 2019 nCoV were detected. 

    "[DOH advises] travelers with symptoms of respiratory illness either during or after travel to seek medical attention immediately," says Health Secretary Duque. "We must always be ready."

    Help your kids fight off respiratory symptoms. Click here for a guide on how to practice good hygiene. 

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