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Chief Editors: Saman Siddiqui and Varun Sule
The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has put almost the entire world on high alert, with cases of infection having been reported on every continent except for Antarctica. We can only hope that India does not become one of its prominent hotspots. Despite the preventive measures taken by the government and various medical institutions, a crisis can emerge if the virus penetrates deep into the country. Primary reasons for the occurrence of such a scenario could be the virus’s infectious nature and India’s high population density. As of now, at least 31 coronavirus cases in the country have been reported.
We urge everyone not to panic because of the new virus and follow preventive guidelines presented by medical institutions. As responsible citizens, it is the duty of each one of us to ensure that the infection, as well as several myths surrounding it, do not spread. Carelessness by any of us can lead to a serious outbreak in our society.
Picture Credits: Wikipedia
Preventive guidelines as suggested by WHO:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, practise good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Don’t go out for work/college if you feel unwell.
- If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell the doctor of any recent travel or contact with travellers.
- It takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected to become sick and develop a fever, so preemptively consult medical experts if you have any recent travel history.
Here some of the perpetuating myths pertaining to the infectiousness of the virus and preventive methods for its transmission:
Can stray animals in the institute spread the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with them. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.
Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?
Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From the preceding analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. However, considering the current circumstances, certain items may have been banned by the government. One should verify the same before shipping any parcel to China.
Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?
No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.
There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.
The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible. Do not self administer any antiviral drugs without consulting a doctor.
Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
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.
Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?
No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.
The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.
Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
Link to the sources of the above information: WHO web page on CoronaVirus prevention