The spread of coronavirus in China and to at least 10 other countries including the United States, South Korea and Japan has led experts and health authorities to offer advice on how to minimize the chances of contracting the disease.
All but four of the 80 deaths reported so far were registered in Hubei province where the outbreak started. Nevertheless, experts have warned over 100,000 people could already be infected–far more than the 2,700 cases reported by China’s National Health Commission in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
What is the coronavirus and how worried should we be?
Coronavirus was initially reported in the 1960s but we don’t know where it comes from. From its crown-like form, it gets its name. A coronavirus can infect animals as well as humans.
Coronavirus spreads 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 doorknobs that infected people have touched.
The World Health Organization recommends that people take basic steps to reduce exposure to and transmission of the virus, for which no cure or vaccine is available.
The UN agency advises people to:
- Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
- Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
- Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
- Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
- Avoid eating raw or under-cooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.