How infectious is the Wuhan Coronavirus? How is it spread?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they shed droplets of saliva, mucus, or other bodily fluids. If any of those droplets fall on you—or if you touch them and then touch your face—you can become infected as well.
These droplets tend to fall fairly close to where they originate. Respiratory illnesses can also be spread through the surfaces upon which the droplets land—like airplane seats, tray tables, lift buttons. How long those droplets last depends both on the droplet and the surface—mucus or saliva, porous or non-porous, for example. Viruses can vary dramatically in how long they last on surfaces, from hours to months.
It is unknown at this time how long the Wuhan Coronavirus tends to live on surfaces, therefore the advise is to wash your hands regularly.
What are the symptoms of the virus and when should you seek medical attention? Do you need all the symptoms to be concerned?
The key symptoms include:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- respiratory problems
These symptoms can mimic the common cold, or even influenza (flu) – which incidentally are still more common than Wuhan Coronavirus.
The current guidelines in Singapore for a high risk, suspect case is if you have one of these symptoms and have been in high risk areas in China or have been in contact with someone from China who have been diagnosed with the Wuhan Coronavirus or visit a hospital within mainland China, within the last 14 days.
We expect these parameters to change as the situation evolves, so we encourage you to call your clinic before coming in, to allow the staff to assess your risk and give you the appropriate advice.
How is Wuhan Coronavirus confirmed?
If you suspect you have the Wuhan Coronavirus, you should telephone your doctor in the first instance. All doctors are updated with the latest Ministry of Health guidelines as to what constitutes a suspect case. If you fulfill that criteria, arrangements will be made for you to be taken to a designated hospital for tests via an ambulance. You should not use public transport if you are deemed high risk.
The hospital will do a blood test to confirm if you have the virus and you will receive the appropriate care.
What is the treatment of Wuhan Coronavirus?
There is no vaccine or antiviral drug available for the Wuhan Coronavirus. Symptoms can be treated.
At the moment, the mortality rate of Wuhan Coronavirus infection is 2.2%. Most of the deaths are in people who have an underlying chronic condition or have a compromised immune system.
What is classified as a fever? Is it different for adults and children?
A fever is considered above 38°C for adults.
Young children under 3 months should seek medical attention (in general) if their temperature is above 37.5°C.
What are the best ways of protecting yourself?
- Wash your hands with soap regularly
- Use alcohol / anti bacterial hand wipes
- Try not to touch your face – eyes, mouth, lips, nose with hands that are not washed
- Avoid large crowds
Would getting the flu vaccine help protect patients?
No. The Wuhan Coronavirus is a different strain to the common flu virus. The only benefit would be that if a patient already contracted the common flu their immunity would be affected making it more problematic if that patient then also contracted the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Should you wear a mask?
If you have any respiratory symptoms, you should wear a mask to prevent the spread of your illness. Healthy individuals do not need to wear a mask. However, should you wish to don one, a surgical mask, not an N95 mask, is recommended.
Why are people being quarantined when they have returned from China?
As the situation is evolving, we are still learning more about how this virus behaves. What we know so far is that it takes up to 14 days to recover from this viral illness, so by imposing a 14 day quarantine from the time of one’s return from China, should cover the time frame for one to show symptoms of this illness, should this person have contracted the condition. This is an important step to protect our community at large.