As of Friday morning, 24 January 2020, health authorities in China have confirmed 25 deaths and 830 infections from the Wuhan virus, with 16 cases overseas including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the US, Macau and two confirmed cases in Hong Kong. The new strain of coronavirus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, reportedly from live animals available at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
Now that it is confirmed that the newly identified coronavirus in Wuhan city is transmitted from person to person, it is extremely important to know what are the symptoms and how to stay protected from the Wuhan virus.
Symptoms of the new Wuhan virus
The China National Health Commission has confirmed on the 10th of January that the cause of the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan is due to a newly emerging strain of Coronavirus (CoV). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that originate in animals before, if at all, affecting humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In rare cases, coronaviruses in animals can evolve to infect people and then spread between people, like it is suspected with the case of the Wuhan virus. The genetic sequence of the Wuhan virus has an 80 percent similarity to the SARS virus, but it appears to cause less severe symptoms compared to it.
Early symptoms of Wuhan coronavirus include:
- Fever (over 38 Celcius)
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- A general feeling of being unwell
How does the virus spread?
According to the CDC, human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
- The air by coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
- Rarely, fecal contamination
In the case of the new Wuhan strain, experts say that it is likely that transmission occurs via droplets, however, it may as well be transmitted through the air, as many viruses do.
How to stay protected from the Wuhan virus?
Since usually these types of viruses spread through the air, it is important to maintain a high level of personal hygiene and wash your hands frequently. Precautious for the coronavirus include the following:
At the time of writing this article, we know that the city of Wuhan is in lock-down, with people not being able to leave, and travel to the city has been limited too.
Try avoiding crowded places
As the chances of contracting the virus increases if you’re exposed to many people potentially infected with it, it is advised to avoid crowded places altogether, if possible.
Wear face mask
While in an ideal scenario you would avoid crowded places, such as MTR or shopping malls, in the real world, and in a city as densely populated as Hong Kong, it is rather impossible. Wearing a 3-layered surgical mask can minimize the chance of contracting the virus in case a carrier coughs near you, and from hand-to-mouth transmissions.
However, to work properly, masks have to be worn correctly and changed frequently as explained in the SCMP Post video discussing the safety measures against the coronavirus.
Wash your hands properly
The simple hygiene measures such as covering your mouth while sneezing, washing your hands, and not putting your hands to your mouth before washing them, could help limit the risk of catching any respiratory virus.
It is advised to wash hands for about 20 seconds. Make sure to lather with soap the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Wash your hands frequently, especially after coming back from a public transportation hub or even a lift, and especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It is also recommended to wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food, and before eating.
Maintain overall good health
Sustaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, as well as supplementing with vitamin C can help to keep your body and immune system strong, making it able to fight the symptoms better.
How to protect others?
If you have flu-like symptoms, you can help protect others by following these simple measures:
- Stay home while you are sick
- Avoid close contact with others
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue/mask when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
- If you suspect you are developing pneumonia-like symptoms, visit your healthcare facility quickly to get checked.
Check in to the hospital
If your infection is severe, your doctor may direct you for hospitalization, or you can check yourself in. Hong Kong public hospitals are notoriously overcrowded during the seasonal flu period, and patients with private health insurance can seek their first help in private clinics and hospitals, as unless tested positive for the Wuhan virus, they can continue treatment in the private facilities, and enjoy greater comforts than in the public health center.
A Hong Kong health insurance should cover the costs associated with treating the virus, as coronavirus is not a pre-existing illness and can infect you without prior warning, hence any standard health insurance policy should cover the condition in case you’re hospitalized. If you’re interested in Hong Kong health insurance policy that covers hospitalization costs, please get in touch with Kwiksure team directly, or call at 3113 1331.