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Thu 5 Mar 2020 11:48 AM

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6 things to know about the coronavirus

Should I go to the doctor if I have the cold or flu? Or how can you mitigate the spread of coronavirus? Questions answered here.

6 things to know about the coronavirus

The coronavirus is spread through respiratory vapour, such as when someone sneezes or coughs into the air around you. Image: AFP 

What are the symptoms?

People who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and difficulties breathing. The virus can cause pneumonia and, in severe cases there can be organ failure.

As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics have no effect and medicines used to treat flu will not work. According to experts, recovery depends heavily on the strength of the person’s immune system.

Should I go to the doctor if I have the cold or flu?

Health authorities have warned that just because people may have the cold or symptoms of the flu, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have coronavirus. Patients should be suspected to have the infection only if they present upper or lower respiratory symptoms, with or without fever, and have travelled to one of the high-risk countries in the preceding 14 days; or have cared for or come into contact with an individual or animal known or strongly suspected to have Covid-19; or have severe acute respiratory infections with no other lab result that explains the illness

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If the symptoms match those of the virus, they must be taken to the nearest hospital or clinic, preferably with a face mask on.

What happens next?

Swabs are taken and the patient is kept in an isolation facility at the hospital until the results are known, which takes around 24 hours.

Where the tests come back positive, a special ambulance and healthcare officials are despatched to screen and test the patient’s family. Even if they don’t show symptoms, they are still required to remain in isolation for 14 days.

Coronavirus patients, meanwhile, stay at a quarantine facility, where their symptoms are treated for roughly two or three weeks.

Why is this worse than normal influenza?

The mortality rate for the coronavirus is around 2 percent in the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province, and less than that elsewhere. Seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1 percent and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10 percent.

How can I mitigate the spread of coronavirus?

The coronavirus is spread through respiratory vapour, such as when someone sneezes or coughs into the air around you. Wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.

Sneeze and cough into tissues or the crook of your elbow. If you get mucus or spit on your skin, clean it off right away. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially people exhibiting respiratory symptoms and fever.

Stay home when you're sick.

Regularly and thoroughly clean surfaces, such as counter tops and doorknobs, with a disinfectant.

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