Wuhan virus: SA is ready
STANDBY: THREE HOSPITALS IN GAUTENG CAN TREAT PATIENTS
So far, no cases have been diagnosed in Africa, but this may change.
Coronaviruses were first identified in the ’60s, but no one really knows where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape.
Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans. It is quite a common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous.
Two human coronaviruses, Mers-CoV and Sars-CoV have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms. Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) symptoms usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia. About three or four of every 10 patients reported with Mers have died. Mers cases continue to occur, primarily in the Arabian peninsula. Sars symptoms often included fever, chills, and body aches which usually progressed to pneumonia.
Mers killed 858 people. It first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In May 2015, there was an outbreak of Mers in Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian peninsula.
In 2003, 774 people died from a severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak. There were no further cases since 2015.
Then, in the beginning of 2020, following a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organisation has identified a new type of a coronavirus which has claimed many lives.
People travel from one country to others and that is how these illnesses can be found in parts of the world where they normally would not exist. This calls then for a collaborative international effort to allow health professionals to quickly contain the spread of these types of diseases.
So far, no coronavirus infections have been reported in Africa. However, the possibility the virus has already made its way here cannot be ruled out.
Local reports from the health department say Gauteng has prepared in advance for a coronavirus outbreak.
According to Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku, three public hospitals have been selected as emergency centres for the virus: Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Steve Biko Academic Hospital, and Tembisa Hospital. Staff from these hospitals have been trained to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.
Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as door knobs that infected people have touched.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The symptoms of most coronaviruses are similar to any other upper respiratory infection, including runny nose; coughing; sore throat; headache; sometimes a fever. In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different, cold-causing virus, such as influenza. In rare cases, a coronavirus infection can be serious and spread to the lower respiratory tract then cause pneumonia or bronchitis, especially in older people, those with heart disease, infants or people with weakened immune systems.
If one is suspected of having coronavirus infection, laboratory tests can be done, which include nose and throat cultures and blood work.
There is no vaccine for coronavirus. To help prevent a coronavirus infection:
Wash your hands. Clean your hands frequently with soap and hot water or use a hand rub containing at least 60% alcohol.
Wear disposable gloves. If you have contact with body fluids or faeces, throw the gloves away immediately after use and wash your hands thoroughly.
Wear a surgical mask. When you’re in the same room as a person with Sars, cover your mouth and nose with a surgical mask.
Wash personal items. Use soap and hot water to wash the utensils, towels, bedding and clothing of an infected person.
Disinfect surfaces. Use a household disinfectant to clean any surfaces that may have been contaminated with sweat, saliva, mucus, vomit, stool or urine. Wear disposable gloves while you clean and throw the gloves away when you’re done.
Follow all precautions for at least 10 days after the person’s signs and symptoms have disappeared. Keep children home if they develop a fever or respiratory symptoms within 10 days of being exposed to someone with the infection.
You treat a coronavirus infection the same way as a cold: get rest, drink fluids, take over-the-counter medicine for a fever, use a humidifier or steamy shower to ease a sore throat. If you are not improving, see a doctor urgently.