Samitivej: FAQs on Coronavirus (2019-nCov)

1. What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which cause diseases ranging from a simple cold (some seasonal viruses are coronaviruses) to more severe diseases such as MERS or SARS. The virus identified in China is a new coronavirus. It has been referred to as 2019-nCoV.

2. What are the symptoms of respiratory infection caused by 2019-nCoV?
As things stand, the main symptoms are fever and respiratory signs such as coughing or shortness of breath. In more severe cases, the disease can lead to death.

3. Are there people at risk who may develop a severe form of the disease?
As with many infectious diseases, people with underlying chronic conditions (respiratory distress, frail people, elderly people, etc.) are at higher risk.

4. What is the mode of transmission?
The first cases that were identified were people who had been to the Wuhan market (closed since 1 January 2020): the hypothesis of zoonosis (disease transmitted by animals) is therefore preferred. Human-to-human transmission has since been proven in China, Japan, Germany, and Vietnam. The evolution of knowledge in the coming weeks will allow us to learn more about the modes of transmission of this virus, its level of transmission, virulence, incubation period and the animals that can be carriers.

5. What defined as a close contact in the context of the Chinese epidemic of 2019-nCoV?
Close contact means sharing the same location as a sick person experiencing symptoms (in the same home, hospital or boarding room) or having direct face to face contact (1-2 meters apart and without effective protective measures) with a sick person during a discussion, or when they cough or sneeze.

6. What if you have been in contact with a non-symptomatic person from China?
As of 30 January 2020, there have been several case reports supporting human-to-human asymptomatic transmission, but this has not yet been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is still premature to conclude that the virus can be transmitted from an asymptomatic patient, who has tested positive for the virus, to another person. If asymptomatic transmission is proven to be true, the current protocols which WHO and many countries’ healthcare authorities use to screen and prevent the spread of the disease will be significantly less effective.


7. When WHO talks about animal sources, could this theoretically include cooked meat or fish and all types of animals?
When the meat is cooked, the viruses are destroyed. Consumption of uncooked or uncooked animal products, including milk and meat, poses a significant risk of infection by a wide variety of organisms that can cause disease in humans.
Appropriately prepared animal products, cooking or pasteurizing them, can be consumed but must also be carefully preserved, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked food.

8. What defines a “case”?
According to WHO, a ‘suspect case’ is a patient with fever and cough requiring hospitalization, who has tested negative for any known pathogens which cause acute respiratory tract infections, and either: 1) has a history of travel to, or residence in, an affected area in China within the 14 days prior to symptom onset, or 2) is a healthcare worker working where patients with 2019-nCoV infection are located.

9. How is the diagnosis made?
The diagnosis is suspected before signs of respiratory infection in a person returning from China in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms, in accordance with the case definition.
A specific biological examination is required to confirm infection. A specimen will be collected and sent to a central laboratory designated by the Department of Disease Control.
Results will take approximately 48 hours.

10. What treatments are available?
To date, no specific treatment has been identified for this new coronavirus, treatment is symptomatic.

11. Can the disease be caught by water?
To date, there have been no reports of water contamination. This disease is respiratory transmission and probably from animal to human, but the source has not yet been identified.

12. Does the 2019-nCoV survive in the outdoor environment?
The degree of human-to-human spread outside of Hubei province remains unclear. The virus’ reproductive number, R0, is estimated by WHO at 1.4–2.5. An R0 greater than 1 indicates that each case leads to more than 1 subsequent case, making it much more difficult to control.

13. What is the contagiousness of the disease?
The degree of human to human spread outside of Hubei province remains unclear. A reproductive number, R0, is estimated at 1.4–2.5 by Chinese authorities and up to 5.5 by other scientists. An R0 greater than 1 indicates that each case leads to more than 1 subsequent case, making control much more difficult.

14. How severe is the disease?
Among the cases reported to date, several patients have developed a severe form of the disease, some of which have died.
Available information suggests that the virus may cause symptoms similar to moderate influenza, but also more severe symptoms. The disease can also progress over time in a patient. Patients with pre-existing chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, respiratory diseases appear to be more likely to develop severe forms, as do people Older. But we still have a lot to learn about this virus and we will continue to analyze the available information on current and new cases.

15. From which distance can one person be contaminated by a coronavirus carrier?
The disease is transmitted through postillons (sneezing, coughing). Close contact (1 metre) is therefore considered necessary to transmit the disease.

16. Can the virus be transmitted through sexual fluids?
There is no evidence in favour of sexual fluid transmission at this stage.

17. Are items imported from China considered a risk?
Apparently not (this question was asked for avian influenza in 2004-2005 and for SARS). No cases of contamination with objects have been reported.

18. Are there any special measures for drugs produced in China?
There are no specific restrictions on the use of drugs from China.

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