Novel Corona Virus (nCov)

What is it?

The Coronavirus was initially discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”

How does it spread?

The Virus is known to spread from animal to human as well as human to human. There are also concerns that Coronavirus can be contracted in the womb. A newborn baby tested positive 30 hours after birth from a mother who was a confirmed patient.

The Coronavirus is currently thought to spread through respiratory droplet transmission such as saliva when talking to someone infected or nearby when they sneeze. It is also possible that touching surfaces after someone else who was infected can cause transference. It is currently not known exactly how long the virus can survive once it has left the human body. Based on the SARS outbreak, it is suspected that it may also spread through sewage systems and water vapour.

How do protect myself and others?

  • The WHO recommends taking the following precautions:
  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  • Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette: maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).

We also recommend taking the following additional precautions:

  • Close toilet lids before flushing and use cistern disinfectant blocks to maintain the sanitation of toilet bowls and disinfect toilet seats regularly.
  • Disinfect high contact surfaces e.g. door handles, railings, light switches regularly.
  • Wear high protection masks such as the N95, FFP2 or higher when using public transport or going to high population density areas such as malls, airports etc.
  • Use bleach soaked door mats and place at hight traffic public access doors and entrances so that guests may clean their shoes before entering buildings.

What are the risks?

The virus causes viral pneumonia and respiratory problems. This poses a high risk to the elderly, young children, people who are immune-compromised or have existing medical conditions such as diabetes, COPD, (Asthma, TB etc), or cardiac problems as well as health care workers who are at high risk for repeated exposure.

What’s the big deal?

If you contract the virus, you may not show any symptoms for up to 14 days. During that time you may spread the virus to others around you unknowingly. This presents a serious problem with the containment of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this outbreak as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. This is after the virus had spread internationally via human-to-human interaction despite emergency quarantine procedures being put in place.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include fever, nausea, respiratory irritation and infection(cough). These symptoms may range from mild to severe, depending on person to person. There is also a growing concern about transmission from patients who show very slight symptoms and may not recognize that they are sick.

What to do if I show symptoms?

Do not go to the clinic or hospital. Instead; call your local doctor or health care provider and inform them of your symptoms. They will implement the protocols as set out by the Department of Health and take the appropriate steps to have you assessed and tested. You may be temporarily quarantined until the tests have been concluded for your safety as well as others. If your tests are positive for the Coronavirus, you will be transferred to the designated health facility that deals with these cases. In the Western Cape, Tygerberg hospital has been designated to deal with any Coronavirus cases.

Information & Resources

World Health Organization:

Johns Hopkins CSSE map:
Western Cape Government information booklet

This information was put together by Medicare Emergency Medical Response CC



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