The World Health Organization (WHO) has published an article on the basic information, transmission mechanism and protection measures relating to the novel coronavirus in a Q&A format, amid global efforts to tackle the outbreak. The following is the text of the article.
Q1: What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infected people are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Q2: What is a "novel" coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The "novel" coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV, has not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December.
Q3: How dangerous is the novel coronavirus?
Infection with 2019-nCoV can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some persons and lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
Q4: Can 2019-nCoV be transmitted from person to person?
Yes, it can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient.
Q5: What can I do to protect myself?
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Maintain social distancing -- maintain at least 1 meter distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
Q6: Should I wear a mask?
Wearing a medical mask can help limit the spread of some respiratory disease. However, it should be combined with other prevention measures including hand and respiratory hygiene and avoiding close contact.
Q7: Is it safe to receive a package from China or any other place where the virus has been identified?
Yes. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.
Q8: Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat 2019-nCoV?
To date, no. Some specific treatments are under investigation and being tested through clinical trials.
The following measures are not specifically recommended as 2019-nCoV remedies as they are not effective and can be even harmful: taking vitamin C, smoking, drinking tradition herbal teas, wearing multiple masks, taking self-medication such as antibiotics which do not work against viruses.