nCoV might seem a very exotic acronym. Something which is all kinds of secret agent stuff…. or I can simply let you know that its just one of those little micro organisms that is waiting on the sidelines, waiting to catch an immunologically naive global villager unawares. In this increasingly interconnected world, we are at risk of rapid spread of diseases of all hues across continents….. BTW the disease per se, has now been renamed to COVID 19. The name of the virus has evolved too…. In case you want more… https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/naming-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-2019)-and-the-virus-that-causes-it
As people the world over, got together to begin celebrating the end of 2019, the World Health Organization was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China. (https://goo.gl/maps/ktL9XX8AjXWMobEX7) Click on this link and zoom out to get an idea of where exactly this city is in China.
The virus being reportedly implicated in this outbreak apparently did not match any other known virus. For infectious disease epidemiologists (popularly referred to as Disease Detectives , I think the CDC USA coined this term), this kind of situation is of serious concern as whenever a new enemy is detected, they are not familiar with its people attacking tactics.
In the first week of January, Chinese researchers confirmed that they had identified a new virus – a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the ubiquitous common cold viruses, and also dangerous viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was initially christened “2019-nCoV.” There, are you feeling reassured not that you have a name ? All the better to have a name that you can toss about here and there, when scaring children with bedtime tales of the Bogeyman. Read the earlier paragraph for the new name.
This Corona Virus usually causes respiratory illness and there is a standard advice that must be shared with all. We need to know how to protect ourselves and those we love, from getting not just this disease, but most respiratory route of spread illnesses.
WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or just regular soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting ‘live’ produce markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
And I would add on a few simple tips for you to think of adopting not just today or because of the nCoV outbreak…
Avoid Shaking Hands with people you meet casually… Do you know if the person has not sneezed or coughed into his palm before shaking your hand? Instead, a ‘Namaskar’ with folded hands is most suitable for conveying greetings and respect to those you meet.
Always keep a window partially open when using a split air conditioner , as there is no fresh air intake in such machines (I am sure you will not believe this! Google it if you want, or take my word for it… I am familiar with HVAC systems). You need the air change! Your split AC is just cooling and circulating the same air, after a bit of dust filtration , thats all.
Always try to sit near the window when in public transport or in cars, and try to get in some fresh air and not just recirculated air.
Practice with your family and friends, to cough and sneeze onto the back of your palm or crook of your elbow… Its not easy as it seems, we have been conditioned over decades of parenting to cover our mouth, but never been told the correct way, to prevent spread of infection. Think about this.
Try to avoid touching your nose and eyes with your hands when out of your home. You cannot wash your hands often enough , and we are all exposed to contaminated surfaces through the day, the lift buttons, the door handles, the staircase railing, the files and documents, the keyboard of our computers, etc… You know it all.
Avoid crowded indoor public spaces such as movie halls and restaurants, to the extent feasible. If you have to dine out, dine outdoors…
Be Safe! Think Hygiene at all times…
So that’s it ladies and gentlemen! It all remains the same, irrespective of new names! Be safe, be well!