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Outbreak of Viral Pneumonia in Wuhan
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Chinese authorities have identified a cluster of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV infection in Wuhan City, China. The outbreak, first declared on 31st December 2019, has spread to other Chinese cities but also to other countries such as Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Several confirmed cases of CoV have a direct or indirect contact with a living poultry and seafood market in Wuhan. The WHO has announced this week that human-to-human transmission was possible and is still investigating to what extent.

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Coronaviruses (Cov) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS or SARS. They can have some severe consequences for vulnerable persons such as elderly people, people suffering from chronic conditions, newborns or pregnant women. CoV can be transmitted from human to human by air or by contact with infected secretions or objects. So far, no treatment or vaccine is available for this virus. Only preventive measures can help put a stop to the spread of the infection.

Here are the recommendations from the World Health Organisation and from local embassies to prevent infection spread:

  • Avoid any contact with poultry (living or dead)
  • Avoid any contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Regularly clean your hands with with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces such as door knobs, switches, handrails or toys
  • Avoid, unless necessary, public or crowded places, especially hospitals

The WHO has not recommended any specific measures for international travelers.

If you are experiencing respiratory infection symptoms (fever, cough, breathing difficulties), it is recommended to wear a surgical mask and consult a doctor or a medical facility immediately. In the meantime, please limit the risks of infection by covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, remaining at a safe distance, using single-use tissues and washing your hands thoroughly. Don't forget to indicate your travel and contacts history.

As hundreds of millions of people are getting ready to travel during the Chinese New Year period (the largest annual human migration on Earth), the number of confirmed cases of CoV is expected to peak in the coming days. Last year, almost 7 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad for Lunar New Year*, which not only puts Asia but also the rest of the world on high alert. 

At the time being, scientists don't know how the virus is going to evolve and it is recommended to regularly consult the World Health Organisation or the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control websites.

For APRIL Members: If you need to consult a doctor, please click here to find our list of medical facilities eligible for direct billing in Asia.

* XinHuaNet

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