What is the Coronavirus, practical ways to prevent it spreading

Since its outbreak in December, the coronavirus (COVID-19) is fast becoming a worldwide concern due to how rapidly it has spread. The source of this novel virus was traced back to wild meat sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, in Wuhan, China.

The coronavirus is a big class of viruses that usually affect animals. In humans, symptoms are displayed in various forms such as a cough, fever, breathing difficulty, tiredness, nasal congestion, viral pneumonia and, in extreme cases, organ failure.

Detailed research showed that COVID-19, as named by the World Health Organization (WHO), originated from bat viruses. It went on to spread to camels and civet cats, therefore exposing humans to the virus.

Practical ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Transmission of the virus has been mainly from person to person. People who were unaware that they were infectious could unknowingly have infected others and although there have been reports of this method of spreading the virus, it was thought to not be the main method. For that reason, preventative measures have been issued by WHO to curb the spread.

1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly at all times and when coming in and going out of a building. Why?
People can contract COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. To help prevent that:
– hands should be regularly washed for at least 25 seconds with soap, especially when using the bathroom or touching door handles
– when sneezing or coughing, cover the mouth and nose with inside of the elbow
– avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, use a mask and, if you are sick, stay at home. Why?
Consideration. This will help everyone within proximity to be protected from the virus. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Anyone with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing should seek medical advice immediately and stay at home until fully recovered.

3. Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why?
When someone coughs or sneezes, small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth are sprayed. If one stands too close, they could breathe in the possibly infectious droplets.

4. Maintain a clean environment
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.

5. Implement food safety measures
Follow good hygiene by thoroughly washing all meat and vegetables when cooking, being sure to clean all utensils used, and hand-washing or sanitizing prior to eating
Tip: carry hand sanitizer at all times.

What is the National Department of Health is saying about the virus:

Although there are no cases of COVID-19 reported in South Africa the Department of Health has activated emergency operations centres which have been running since the 31st of January. Activation of these centres means there are medical staff exclusively assigned to address COVID-19 cases. In addition to the operations centres, the Department of Health announced that the following hospitals will serve as centres for isolation and treatment of people infected with COVID-19:

  • Polokwane Hospital, Limpopo
  • Rob Ferreira Hospital, Mpumalanga
  • Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Steve Biko Hospital and Tembisa Hospitals, Gauteng
  • Grace Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Klerksdorp Hospital, North West
  • Kimberley Hospital, Northern Cape
  • Pelonomi Hospital, Free State
  • Livingstone Hospital, Eastern Cape
  • Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape

Minister of Health, Zweli Mkize, stated that a 24-hour hotline (0800 029 999) was set up at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to field questions on the outbreak. In addition to digital thermal screeners, port health officials have also been provided with handheld thermometers to detect the temperature of any traveller arriving in the country. The Department of Health has also requested support from the South African Military Health Services to boost manpower at the various ports of entry.


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