An outbreak of 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) causing severe acute respiratory illness has been reported in Wuhan, China since December 21, 2019. The virus has not been previously identified so little is known about it, including its origin. Initial cases identified, however, have been linked to Wuhan South China Seafood City (also called the South China Seafood Wholesales Market and the Hua Nan Seafood Market), where, in addition to seafood, chickens, bats, cats, marmots, and other wild animals are sold, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak (CDC). Confirmed cases of novel coronavirus have now been documented in other countries, with most infected persons having recently traveled to China and a few cases of person-to-person transmission being observed.

What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to 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).

What is a novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

Symptoms can be different depending on the type of coronavirus, but common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Can coronaviruses be transmitted from person to person?
Yes, some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household workplace, or health care setting. Some reports also indicate people who have not yet developed symptoms may also be able to infect others.

Is there a vaccine for a novel coronavirus?
Presently, there is no vaccine for the 2019-nCoV. When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number years for a new vaccine to be developed.

What can I do to protect myself and loved ones?
To reduce exposure to and transmission of the illnesses, maintain basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. In addition,

  • frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;

What if I recently travelled to a country with reported casesand got sick?
If you travelled to a country where cases of the novel coronavirus was detected, watch yourself for symptoms within 14 days after you left that country. If you develop symptoms and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Wear a mask if available
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick if possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Check your local Ministry of Health for information or CARPHA’s website for guidance for travellers.
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