What is the Coronavirus? Signs, Symptoms and Causes?

Coronavirus – officially named Covid-19 by the World Health organisation (WHO) – has been declared by the government as a “serious and imminent threat to public health”. 

Coronaviruses are part of a large family of viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that they usually cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses”, similar to the common cold. The covid-19 strain of coronavirus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the largest city in central China. With the first suspected case at the end of December 2019.

The coronavirus outbreak has been categorised as a global health emergency by the WHO. In Feb 2020 there have been 74,185 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe, while the number of deaths in China have now reached 2,004. Cases have been confirmed in several countries including Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan, as well as in the UK. 

As a result of this the WHO have quickly introduced new powers to limit and handle the spread. Under these new measures, which were announced on 17th February, the Department of Health has declared that anyone confirmed to have the virus, can now be forcibly quarantined, and will not be free to leave. They also went further and stated infected individuals can be forcibly sent into isolation, if they pose a threat to public health.

Travel Advice

The virus originated in the Hubei province in China, and the most cases have been recorded there. As such, on Feb 4th the The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement advising against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and British citizens have now been advised to avoid but essential travel to China, not including Hong Kong and Macao. February has also seen the Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating that he  expects more cases to be diagnosed in the UK.

What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?

It is highly likely that at some int in your life, you have been infected with a type of this virus. symptoms usually only last for s short time.

Symptoms of the virus may include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, or more severe diseases such as SARS. However, this is more common in infants and older adults or people with cardiopulmonary disease, or weakened immune systems.

How does it spread?

Coronaviruses spread from person to person through the following ways:

  • coughing and sneezing
  • close personal contact, e.g. 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
  • fecal contamination, although this is rare

How to Stay Safe?

Currently there are no vaccines to protect against coronavirus infection. But you can reduce your risk of contracting it by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

You can help reduce the risk of spreading viruses by staying at home if you are experiencing cold-like symptoms. And avoiding close contact with others.

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw this away, and thoroughly wash your hands. It is also recommended to clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.

Travel Advice

The virus originated in the Hubei province in China, and the most cases have been recorded there. As such, on Feb 4th the The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement advising against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and British citizens have now been advised to avoid but essential travel to China, not including Hong Kong and Macao. February has also seen the Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating that he  expects more cases to be diagnosed in the UK.

Training

Engage in Learning offer an interactive eLearning course on Infection Control. This has been updated to include specific training on coronavirus.

Our Infection Control course can be found here