Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans in China in 2002 and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. As surveillance improves around the world, more coronaviruses are likely to be identified
The animal source of the 2019-nCoV has not yet been identified. This does not mean you can catch 2019-nCoV from any animal or from your pet. It’s likely that an animal source from a live animal market in China was responsible for some of the first reported human infections. To protect yourself, when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
What can I do to protect myself?
Stay aware of the latest information on the outbreak, available on WHO website, and take care of your health by doing the following:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirtyWhy? Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.
- Maintain social distancing – maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouthWhy? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Tell your health care provider if you have travelled in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.Why? Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing it’s important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes, and depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, 2019-nCoV could be one of them.
- If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China, carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered, if possible.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
Wearing a medical mask can help limit the spread of some respiratory disease. However, using a mask alone is not guaranteed to stop infections and should be combined with other prevention measures including hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding close contact – at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people.
WHO advises on the rational use of medical masks thus avoiding unnecessary wastage of precious resources and potential mis-use of masks (see Advice on the use of masks). This means using masks only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have suspected 2019-nCoV infection with mild symptoms or are caring for someone with the suspected 2019-nCoV infection. A suspected 2019-nCoV infection is linked to travel in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or close contact with someone who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.
How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask
- Before putting on a mask, wash hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask
- Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; wash hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when a person, for example, coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. It is important that everyone practice good respiratory hygiene. For example, sneeze or cough into a flexed elbow, or use a tissue and discard it immediately into a closed bin. It is also very important for people to wash their hands regularly with either alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. The novel coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.
If there are any more updates relating to the virus released by WHO we will ensure this page is kept updated to keep you informed with the best advice.