Coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common to cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
What is coronavirus?
- Coronaviruses (CoV) comprise a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common to cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
- Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted between animals and humans. An example of this is SARS-CoV, where the disease was transmitted from civet cats to humans.
- The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
What are the symptoms?
- Common symptoms include respiratory symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- breathing difficulties
- In severe cases of coronavirus can cause: –
- severe acute respiratory syndrome
- kidney failure
How soon do symptoms occur?
- Symptoms occur 2-10 days after a person has been exposed.
What is the global, regional, and local burden of coronavirus?
- The coronavirus outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China since December 21, 2019. There are currently several countries with the World Health Organization regions that have reported confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV. These include China, Singapore, Japan, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the United States.
- Presently it is estimated that there over 9,000* cases of 2019-nCoV globally. There have been over 200* deaths caused by the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency of international concern over the recent outbreak.
- In the region of the Americas, the United States has reported six (6)* confirmed cases of 2019-nCov and Canada has reported three (3)* confirmed cases.
- There have been no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the Cayman Islands.
* These figures are subject to change as the number of confirmed cases increase. For the latest information on 2019-nCoV please refer to World Health Organization.
Is there a vaccine against coronavirus?
- Currently, there is no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV. When a disease is new, it can take up to a few years for a new vaccine to be developed.
How is coronavirus spread?
- While this strain of coronavirus is new, it appears to spread in a similar manner to that of other coronaviruses such as SARS, through cough and sneeze droplets.
- This occurs when an infected person sneezes or coughs directly on another person. The droplets are then transferred when the healthy person touches their nose or mouth.
- A person can also become ill if they touch surfaces where droplets have landed such as tables, chairs and door handles, then touch their nose or mouth. This route is dependent on the length of time the virus is able to survive on the surface.
- Some reports indicate that people who have not yet developed symptoms may also be able to infect others.
- It is important to remember coronaviruses are also able spread to people who come in contact with infected animals and livestock.
How do I reduce the risk of infection?
- Although we do not have 2019-nCoV cases in the Cayman Islands, there is a probability of returning residents or visitors from affected areas being infected with coronavirus. This is why it is recommended to practice infection control measures such as:
- frequent hand cleansing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections, and
- avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
How is coronavirus diagnosed?
- Doctors suspect the possibility of coronavirus based on clinical symptoms and signs and one of the following criteria:
- The person who is experiencing a severe acute respiratory infection has recently travelled to a country that has reported a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV within the past 14 days.
- The person who is experiencing a severe acute respiratory infection has been in contact with another ill person who has travelled to a country that has reported a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV within the past 14 days.
- The person who is experiencing a severe acute respiratory infection has visited or worked in a live animal market in Wuhan, China within the past 14 days.
- Confirmation obtained through a blood test. This form of testing is done by the Caribbean Public Health Agency, which takes five to ten days.
What should I do if I have coronavirus?
- While there is no specific treatment for 2019-nCoV, if you have recently travelled to a country experiencing an outbreak of coronavirus and develop symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, seek medical attention immediately. Ensure that you provide your doctor with your recent travel history and symptoms.
- Wear a mask if available.
- Do not travel while you are ill, if possible.
- Treatment will be administered based upon your symptoms.
- Laboratory confirmation is not essential for the management of coronavirus cases.