More than 20,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus, which continues to spread to more 24 countries since it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in early December.
At least 425 people have died so far in mainland China, one more in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.
While many countries, especially those in Africa, are yet to report any confirmed case, there have been scares of the disease in Nigeria.
To minimise the risk of contracting Coronavirus, you need to know how it is spreading, and to protect yourself and family from the deadly disease.
Coronavirus is a new illness, but scientists have found out that it spreads from person to person in close proximity, similar to other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.
How is the coronavirus spreading?
1) When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection. For flu, some hospital guidelines define exposure as being within six feet of an infected person who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or longer.
2) The disease can also be spread through droplets landing on surfaces such as seats on buses or trains or desks in school. However, whether this is a main transmission route depends on how long viruses survive on surfaces – this can vary from hours to months.
3) Although not yet confirmed, some health authorities believe the virus can be spread by people before they even have symptoms. Some other illnesses such as flu can be passed from one person to another before symptoms occur – but the extent to which this is happening with the Wuhan coronavirus is not well understood yet.
It is not yet known how long the virus can survive outside a host (human body), but in other viruses, the range is between a few hours or months.
The incubation period of the coronavirus, the length of time before symptoms appear, is between one and 14 days.
How can people protect themselves and others?
1) Always wash your after making contact with people and animals. wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse.
2) Avoid close contact with anyone coughing, sneezing or showing symptoms of respiratory illness. Others symptoms of coronavirus includes fever and shortness of breath, severe cases can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and in worse scenarios death.
3) Face masks offer some protection as they block liquid droplets. However, they do not block smaller aerosol particles that can pass through the material of the mask. The masks also leave the eyes exposed and there is evidence that some viruses can infect a person through the eyes.
4) Seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers.
5) When visiting live markets in affected areas avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces that have been in contact with animals.
6) If you are in an affected area avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and Cook food thoroughly before consumption. Scientists are claiming that animals are the primary host of the coronavirus. Due to this health official recommended cooking meat and animal products like eggs, milk, thoroughly before consumption.
Secondly, anyone with underlying medical conditions should avoid live animal markets and raw meats together, since those people are “considered at higher risk of severe disease.”
7) If you have returned from an affected area in China in the last two weeks, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This means not going to work, school or public areas.
8) If you have returned from an infected area and develop a high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a doctor.