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Go back to the blog 24.02.2020

The Coronavirus - Facts

As concern spreads globally about the virus outbreak in Wuhan, China, our latest blog posts shares some key facts to know about the virus and how to prevent it. Read our blog below and download our handy infographic here for more information.

For more information you can also see Now Health International's Member FAQ here and read a detailed briefing from their travel assistance partner Assist America here.

What is the virus?

The virus, currently known 2019-nCoV, is part of the coronavirus family which includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) as well as the common cold. The virus is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans.

Where is it?

The virus originated in a seafood marked in Wuhan, although there have now been a handful of confirmed cases outside of mainland China, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Japan and the US.
Measures are now being taken to prevent further spread of the disease, including screenings and quarantine procedures at airports.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fever and shortness of breath. In more severe cases it can lead to pneumonia and respiratory tract conditions.

How bad is it?

To date there have been more than 80,000 cases and 2,801 deaths (as of 27 February 2020). The virus is believed to be milder than SARS and for most people the symptoms will gradually subside, although you are advised to seek treatment early. The majority of deaths have been amongst the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions who are at heightened risk from respiratory tract diseases.

How do I prevent it?

It has been confirmed that the virus can be transferred by human contact, such as via a handshake. You should therefore take care to avoid people with symptoms, including those with a cough, and you may wish to wear a face mask when in public. You should also avoid touching your eyes and nose wherever possible.
Crucially good personal hygiene and regular hand washing is advised. This means washing your hands thoroughly – 20 seconds is recommended. You may also wish to carry anti-bac gel with you in case you are unable to frequently wash your hands.

What does the WHO say?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced it will not yet declare a "global emergency" over the new virus and is not currently recommending any travel restrictions, although it is monitoring the situation closely.

Who is at risk?

Young children, the elderly, or those with underlying medical conditions are at a more heightened risk and should take extra precautions.

What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t panic. Seek medical attention and remember to share your travel history with your health care provider. It is wise to call your doctor in advance of your visit to alert them to your symptoms so they can prepare to treat you and prevent further spread of the virus.

It is best to call in advance to alert them to your symptoms rather than visit in person to help prevent further spread of the disease. They can then advise further on whether you need to seek medical treatment.

If you are symptomatic, where possible try to isolate yourself from family members, particularly the vulnerable (e.g. elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions).

This post first appeared on January 24, 2020 on the Now Health Blog in English and was written by Dr. Bilal Shirazi. Dr. Bilal has more than 17 years of experience working across clinical medicine and the health insurance sector, with particular expertise in health insurance administration and operations. In addition to his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBBS), he has an MBA and is an Associate Member of the Life Office Management Association (LOMA).
See Dr Bilal Shirazi's profile.

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