The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of 2019-nCoV a global health emergency on the 30th of January 2020, in recognition of the risk the virus poses to countries beyond its origin in China. Although the disease is mostly confined to China, coronavirus has reached as far as the US, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and Finland.
What are corona viruses?
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, 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:
The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
How did the novel coronavirus develop?
It is understood that the virus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in a seafood market where wild animals are also traded illegally. Coronaviruses are known to jump from animals to humans, so it’s thought that the first people infected with the disease – a group primarily made up of stallholders from the seafood market – contracted it from contact with animals. As of January 26, it was clear that the disease was spreading from human to human.
What are the symptoms?
Human coronaviruses can cause serious illnesses involving the lower respiratory tract, such as pneumonia. The major clinical signs and symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection are:
2. Coughing or sore throat
3. Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
Serious cases can progress to pneumonia and kidney failure. More serious infections occur in older adults, infants and medically frail and immune-compromised patients.
How can we stop the spread?
Similar to other respiratory illnesses, the 2019-nCoV spreads from person to person mainly by close physical contact and tiny droplets in the air. Touching surfaces that have been contaminated from a cough or sneeze by an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face can also spread the virus. The best way to protect yourself is the same as you would against any respiratory infection. Practice good hygiene by:
making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
Who is most at risk of contracting 2019-nCoV?
Currently, in Australia, people most at risk of contracting the virus are those who have been in mainland China recently or have been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of coronavirus. According to the Australian Government Department of Health, if you think you may have been a close contact of a confirmed case of a novel coronavirus, you must isolate yourself in your home for 14 days after the last contact with the confirmed case.
Those who are most at risk of serious illness are:
people with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer
elderly people very young children and babies people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions
If you are interested in seeking more information on 2019-nCoV, you can contact the Australian Government Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. The line operates Monday–Friday from 8 am to 8 pm, Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm.
Australian Dental Association (https://www.ada.org.au/News-Media/News-and-Release/Latest-News/Coronavirus)
World Health Organisation (https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-01-2020-statement-on-the-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov))
Australian Government Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov)