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Joaquim Chaves Saúde | Coronavirus - Information



Joaquim Chaves Saúde | Coronavirus - Information

On 31 December 2019, the WHO received information regarding an outbreak of cases of pneumonia of unknown aetiology, concentrated in the city of Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province.

On 7 January 2020, a new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause.

The source of infection is still unclear, but there is a possibility of zoonosis (transmission of infection through contact with animals), as was the case with the appearance of Coronaviruses in the past (SARS –Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromein 2002 & MERS –Middle East Respiratory Syndromein 2012).

Infection by 2019-nCoV has displayed epidemic behaviour, with the epicentre located in the city of Wuhan, but with imported cases appearing in 19 countries other than China (as at 01 February 2020) and the first case of community transmission occurring in the USA.

Dissemination of the number of cases led the WHO to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020.

The principal clinical signs and symptoms reported are: fever, cough and difficulty breathing (dyspnoea).

Infection by 2019-nCoV may develop in a benign manner, but in people who are elderly and/or suffer from chronic disease, it may evolve to more severe forms of illness.

Administration of antibiotics is not an effective treatment against infection and there is no specific prophylactic or antiviral treatment. The available treatment is based on implementing support measures, controlling symptoms and managing associated complications.

The fatality rated reported to date is estimated at approximately 2%.

Considering the similarities of 2019-nCoV with other viruses of the same Coronavirus family (SARS & MERS), it is presumed that the probable form of transmission occurs through inhalation or inoculation of infected particles (through the respiratory tract or contact with contaminated surfaces).

Preventing infection is based on respiratory protection and hygiene measures, as well as frequent hand washing.

The prescribed recommendations for individual protection and preventing infection by respiratory viruses, namely the emerging 2019-nCov, are:

- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, or disinfect with alcohol solutions;

- When coughing or sneezing, cover the mouth and nose, using the inside of the elbow or a disposable tissue. After placing the tissue in the rubbish, repeat hand washing;

- Avoid contact with sick people who display respiratory symptomatology, particularly those who were in areas affected by the disease;

- In case of visits to markets that trade in live animals or food products of animal origin, avoid direct contact with live animals and wash hands frequently;

- Avoid consuming raw or undercooked food products of animal origin;

- Considering the disease’s epidemic and currently unpredictable behaviour, it is prudent to avoid travelling to areas where there is documented transmission of infection;

- People who present symptoms of respiratory disease and were in the Hubei province of China in the last 14 days, or had contact with people with suspected or confirmed infection by 2019-nCoV, should contact the Health Services for advice by phoning 112 or 808 24 24 24, before going to a health institution.

Containing and controlling the epidemic will depend on the efficiency of joint efforts implemented and coordinated on a global level, and the indispensable contribution of prevention measures adopted on an individual level.

Ana Cláudia Miranda

Graduate Assistant of Infectious Diseases

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