Everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
UPDATE: January 18, 2020, 3.05 pm: COVID-19: MoPH announces 227 new cases and 157 new recoveries
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Qatar has assured the public that the patients are being kept under complete quarantine and strict infection control procedures at Hamad Medical Corporation’s Communicable Diseases Center.
As health authorities in the country continue to implement the highest level of monitoring, detection, and management procedures to deal with the virus, the public has been advised to follow certain measures to safeguard their health.
It is significant for the public to know everything about the virus to play their role in preventing the spread of the illness.
What is COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) coronaviruses (CoV) are a large group of viruses that can cause varying illnesses such as the common cold or more severe diseases such as MERS or SARS.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a previously unidentified strain of coronavirus, which has not been found in humans before.
How does it spread?
Although the origin of the virus in China has been connected with animal to human transmission, the disease has been spreading from person to person.
This means that just like other respiratory illnesses, individuals in close proximity of an infected person may be at risk.
MoPH outlined three ways in which the disease can spread:
- By air (by breathing in droplets of bodily fluids such as saliva or mucus of an infected individual)
- Through close personal contact (such as touching, shaking hands, or kissing)
- Touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes with hands (as hands may be contaminated after coming into contact with infected surfaces)
What are the symptoms?
It is important to know that symptoms of COVID-19 may not begin to show for up to 14 days.
The WHO reported that fever, tiredness and dry cough are among the most common symptoms of the virus. However, some patients may also experience pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.
It is also likely that some individuals, who contract the virus, feel no symptoms at all.
“Most people (about 80 percent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing,” WHO said.
How to protect yourself?
Here are precautionary measures MoPH recommends:
Pay special attention to hand hygiene
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Likewise, you could use an alcohol-based rub.
Wash your hands:
- after coughing or sneezing;
- before during, and after preparing food;
- before eating;
- after using the restroom
- when caring for patients
- when your hands are dirty
- after handling animals
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands
Make sure not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands, as they may be infection carriers. This is why it is essential to regularly wash hands.
Cancel or postpone travel plans
MoPH has urged the public to avoid unnecessary traveling to countries that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Keep your distance from people who show visible signs of respiratory illnesses. Do not shake hands with individuals with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Always cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
When sneezing or coughing, make sure to use a clean napkin to cover your nose and mouth. Immediately discard the used napkin in the trash. If a napkin is unavailable, use the top of your sleeve (flexed elbow) but do not your hands.
Visit the nearest health center in case of flu-like symptoms
If you develop any flu-like symptoms, make sure to visit the nearest health center or hospital.
The MoPH has launched a dedicated hotline (16000) to answer any public queries about the novel coronavirus.
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