What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are nothing new. They are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.  A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain not previously identified in humans.

The novel coronavirus behind the outbreak in China has not been identified in people before.

What is the Novel Coronavirus?

On 31st December 2019, the China County Office of WHO (World Health Organization) was informed of pneumonia cases with unknown causes detected in Wuhan City, in a province of China.  A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV0) was identified on 7th January by Chinese authorities.

Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people (also known as zoonotic).  They are ubiquitous – there are many known viruses in humans and animals including some viruses that cause the common cold.

What are the symptoms of Corona Virus?

People with Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) usually present with symptoms such as a fever and sometimes respiratory symptoms.  This could include a sore throat, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath or rapid breathing.

If you are experiencing symptoms, you should visit your healthcare provider.  They may arrange laboratory tests on respiratory specimens and serum to detect human coronaviruses.  You should also tell your provider about any recent travel, particularly in the last 14 days.

What should you do to limit risk of transmission?

The World Health Organization has standard recommendations for the public to reduce exposure to and transmission of many illnesses.  These include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid contact with anyone with a fever and cough
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided
  • If you feel you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care as early as possible and ensure you share any previous travel history with them

Currently, there is not enough data to assess clinical severity however, on current evidence, the virus is not thought to be as clinically severe as SARS or MERS.  Investigations are ongoing.

How to keep up to date with developments?

As this is a developing and evolving situation, key details and any suspected cases in Australia are shared across jurisdictions through key expert bodies.  Australia has world class public health systems in place to manage cases including isolation facilities in each state and territory.

More updated information can be found at https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

or via your state or territory health department at https://www.health.gov.au/about-us/contact-us/local-state-and-territory-health-departments

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