How to protect yourself from Coronavirus

03 February 2020

As there is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus infection, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Find out how the Coronavirus is spread, and what you can do to minimise your risk of exposure.

How is the Coronavirus spread?

Since this Coronavirus was only recently identified, there is currently limited information regarding the modes of transmission, clinical features and severity of this disease. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

  • Rarely through faecal contamination

How can the Coronavirus infection be prevented in humans?

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) states that “currently there is no vaccine for 2019-nCoV”. Officials in China have intensified efforts to contain the spread of the virus. 

Watch this video from the NICD on how to protect yourself from possible infection.

How can you reduce your exposure to Coronavirus?

While there are no specific measures currently recommended to prevent Coronavirus, the following steps can provide protection against infection with coronaviruses and many other viruses that are more common in South Africa: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow or a tissue. Throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.

  • Seek medical care early and share your previous travel history with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

  • When visiting animal markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.

  • Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

  • Avoid travel if you have a fever and cough. If you become sick while using public transport, inform the personnel and seek medical care early.

  • Avoid contact with farm or wild animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat). 

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” as of 31 January 2020.
However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.

What measures have been put in place in South Africa to minimise the risk of transmission should any cases of Coronavirus be reported?

Fever screening is in place at international airports, with protocols in place for isolation and management of any suspected Coronavirus cases, should they be detected.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com