Novel Coronavirus, is new Chinese coronavirus, a cousin of the SARS virus , and not something we would wish on our worst enemies.
This virus has spread as far as the US, and many countries – including Nigeria, are taking measures to make sure it doesn’t spread to their borders.
Novel Coronavirus has infected hundreds since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans.
What is Novel Coronavirus?
Chinese researchers have identified a key protein essential for the novel coronavirus to infect humans, providing valuable information to help evaluate the public health risk.
They also suggested the natural reservoir of the virus is likely to be bats.
Although the full genome sequence has been released, the origin and transmission mechanism of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), as denoted by the World Health Organization, remain unclear.
So far, six whole sets of 2019-nCoV genomes have been released.
Here in Nigeria, we are still dealing with Lassa fever, and a new virus outbreak would not be really good. This is why the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is currently coordinating a multisectoral technical group that is assessing and managing the risk of importation to Nigeria. NCDC is in close communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) who is closely monitoring the situation globally. WHO is in direct communication with the Government of China and other affected countries, and has released technical and travel guidance.
How deadly is Novel Coronavirus?
It’s not clear how deadly Novel coronavirus will be, but fatality rates are currently lower than both MERS and SARS. Experts stress that it will change as the outbreak develops, so chances should not be taken with it.
As at the 20th of January 2020, 278 laboratory-confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection including six deaths have been reported to WHO globally since the first case was reported on the 31st of December 2019.
There is no specific treatment, but research is underway. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early. If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your doctor.
How to protect yourself from Novel Coronavirus
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), below are the best ways to protect yourself from the virus;
- Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water
- Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
- Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms
- Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.
The NCDC is the government agency with the mandate to lead the prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases.