As of Monday morning, 16 March, 94 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in Pakistan, with 41 more cases emerging in Karachi.

166,980 cases have been reported worldwide with 6,492 deaths. On March 11, WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic.

Here’s what you need to know about the illness and how to stay safe to prevent unnecessary panic.

Why is it called the novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus is a strain that has not previously been identified in humans. There are many kinds of coronaviruses, some which just cause the common cold.

What is different about it?

Scientists believe the novel coronavirus was transmitted from a different animal to humans, which is rare. What is even more rare is that the virus became transmissible from human to human. Individuals infected with the virus may not show symptoms for up to 14 days after the initial exposure. While the infected individual may not show the symptoms as yet, they are still capable of transmitting the disease to others.

What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus?

Some of the most common symptoms are a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and difficulty in breathing. 

What are the symptoms?

Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and trouble breathing are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

WHO says the symptoms are more severe for some individuals and lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. 

“More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus,” says the World Health Organisation.

What can businesses and employers do?

Sick employees should be encouraged to stay home, according to the CDC. It also stated that sick employees should not return for work until their temperature has stayed below 11.4 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 24 hours without the help of fever reducing or symptom-altering medicine. 

What precautions should be taken in office?

“Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs,” the CDC said, “provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.”

Individuals in office should also follow the correct coughing and sneezing etiquette and wash their hands properly for at least 20 seconds. Posters should also be hung in offices on how to prevent the illness to educate employees.

What does WHO say about protecting yourself?

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

Is there a cure for novel coronavirus?

While many patients have recovered from their symptoms, no cure exists as yet. But there is some development, the first US study of a drug to treat novel coronavirus in humans is ongoing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir in adults diagnosed with coronavirus.

What about a vaccine?

Scientists are working on a vaccine, but it won’t be developed anytime soon. While the NIH is trying to develop one, it will take at least a few months before clinical trials would start and it would become available. Scientists in Texas, New York and China are also trying to create a vaccine


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