The deadly Wuhan coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, has as of Wednesday killed nine people in China and infected at least 440. The US confirmed its first case — a man in his 30s in Washington state — on Tuesday.
Scientists are still scrambling to fully understand the disease, which they confirmed Tuesday can be passed from human to human.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a criteria on their website detailing guidance for healthcare professionals on the symptoms of the virus.
What to look out for
A person could be at risk if they have:
- Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness — such as coughing or difficulty in breathing.
- Also if they have pneumonia-like symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat and headache.
If coupled with the following conditions, you might be at risk:
- If you have traveled from Wuhan, China, in the 14 days before the onset of the symptoms.
- If you have had close contact with someone under investigation for the virus while they were ill in the last 14 days.
- If you have had close contact with an ill, lab-confined patient of the virus in the last 14 days.
“Close contact” is defined as being within “approximately 6 feet, or within the room or care area” of a person with the coronavirus without appropriate protective clothing, the CDC said.
They can also include caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area with a person with the virus, the agency added.
The CDC says that if you have traveled to Wuhan recently and feel any of these symptoms, you should “seek medical care right away.”
Patients in the US who meet these criteria should be evaluated as a person under investigation for the Wuhan, and reported to their state health department, it added.
Who is most at risk?
Coronaviruses like 2019-nCoV are particularly dangerous for people who have weakened immune systems, like younger children and older adults.
There are no vaccines to protect humans from contracting a coronavirus.
Pets are also at risk of catching coronaviruses, which can lead to disease and even death.
The outbreak of the Wuhan virus was first identified at a market that sold seafood and live animals like wolves and civet cats. The government has since banned these sales.
How to protect yourself
- Try to avoid contact with people that display symptoms similar to those of pneumonia or the common cold, like coughing or runny noses.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when possible.
- Avoid animals and animal markets.
The World Health Organization are due to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, to decide whether to declare the outbreak as a global health emergency.