On the 11th and 12th of February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) held a two-day summit in Geneva to discuss progress on the development of tests, drugs and vaccines designed to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. More than 300 scientists from around the world dialed in to discus the virus.
Emerging first in China, the disease (now called 2019-nCoV) has now been reported in 24 other countries and is estimated to have infected more than 43,000 people (the vast majority located in Wuhan province).
According to the Department of Health, the two main criteria in determining which patients are a suspected case include:
- Travel to (including transit through) mainland China in the 14 days before the onset of illness, OR close contact in the 14 days before the onset of illness, with a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV
- A fever OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath or cough) with or without fever
Specific actions for health workers in managing suspected cases can be found on the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.
In this rapidly evolving situation, everyone has a personal responsibility to take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the virus. These include good hand hygiene, covering sneezes and coughs, avoiding contact with anyone who has a fever or cough, and seeking early medical advice and treatment if unwell.