• Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
• You should also maintain at least one-metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
As a Kenyan who has not travelled to China, your risk of contracting the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is extremely low.
However, Kenya is among seven African countries seen as most vulnerable should the virus spread there. The others are Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
The World Health Organization, therefore, advises the citizens of these countries to arm themselves with information about the virus, should it hit home.
As of Wednesday, there were 80,419 confirmed coronavirus cases globally and 2,711 deaths. The virus has spread in Asia, Middle East, Europe and America. One case has been confirmed in Algeria.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.
This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and humans.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
Some people become infected with the novel coronavirus but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80 per cent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around one out of every six people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About two per cent of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales.
These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than one metre (three feet) away from a person who is sick.
The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of the disease.
It is, therefore, possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. WHO says it is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.
WHO says one of the ways to protect yourself is to regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
You should also maintain at least one-metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth because hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition.
The WHO says taking antibiotics doesn’t help an infected person because antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections.
COVID-19 is caused by a virus.
Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.
- From the WHO