On 30 December 2019, local authorities were alerted to the development of a cluster of 27 cases of severe pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan city, Hubei Province of China. By the evening of 3rd Jan 2020, the number had jumped to 44 cases, and by 5th Jan, 59 cases had been identified. Amongst them, 7 patients are said to be in a critical condition and a further 163 people placed under observation.
It is not possible to distinguish clearly between symptoms of the common cold, inﬂuenza and the 2019- nCoV. The common symptoms include fever, cough, in more severe cases, shortness of breath, especially when there is pneumonia. About 20 per cent of those infected are at risk of serious complications especially the elderly and those with chronic disease. The fatality rate stands around 2.1 per cent.
When and where to seek treatment
Travellers returning from Wuhan should monitor their health closely and to seek medical attention promptly if they feel unwell. They should first put on a face mask and seek medical attention immediately in the nearest hospital.
The MOH definition of a suspect case of the 2019-nCoV infection was expanded on 25 January to be:
a. A person with clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of pneumonia or severe respiratory infection with breathlessness AND travel to mainland China within 14 days before onset of illness;
b. A person with an acute respiratory illness of any degree of severity who, within 14 days before onset of illness had:
i. Been to Wuhan city or Hubei Province, China; OR
ii. Been to a hospital in mainland China; OR
iii. Had close contact with a case of 2019 novel coronavirus infection cluster.
Mode of Transmission and Infectiousness
Preliminary studies suggest that incubation period for the 2019-nCoV can range from two to 14 days. The incubation period is the time between when a patient gets infected and when they start displaying symptoms.
The extent of transmission in pre-symptomatic individuals is currently still being investigated.
Like other human coronaviruses, transmission of the 2019-nCoV occurs through droplets and can happen through:
• Coughing and sneezing
• Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
• Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
However, researchers from a hospital in the city of Shenzhen have warned about an additional faecal-oral transmission of coronavirus, having detected genetic traces of the new coronavirus in the stool of patents. Squat latrines, common in China, lacking covers and hands that are not washed thoroughly with soap and water after visiting the bathroom could be a source of virus transmission.
Based on clinical assessment, relevant testing for pneumonia or other viral respiratory syndromes will be undertaken by the managing physician or infectious disease team.
Medical care of viral pneumonia is largely supportive using medication and to help relieve symptoms and address complications such as bacterial infections.
Standard infection control measures to reduce transmission of respiratory secretions include:
- Avoid close contact with people suﬀering from acute respiratory infections.
- Wash your hands with soap, and scrub at least 20 seconds especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
- Avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals and eating raw and undercooked meat.
- If you display symptoms of acute respiratory infection, put on a surgical mask, and practise cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
- Persons who have been put on a leave of absence (LOA) should stay at home and avoid social contact. They should avoid crowded places and refrain from attending social or public gatherings. They should monitor their health closely, and seek medical attention immediately if they develop any fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as cough or shortness of breath.
- Consider getting the Inﬂuenza Vaccination: Although it does NOT confer protection against 2019-nCoV, it will prevent you from contracting inﬂuenza symptoms and signs that may mislead screening authorities at temperature checkpoints, and result in unnecessary anxiety and delays to your travel.
Vaccination to seasonal Influenza does NOT confer protection. However it is advisable to get yourself vaccinated against Influenza if you will be travelling to exposed areas. This will prevent you from contracting influenza symptoms and signs that may mislead screening authorities at temperature checkpoints and result in unnecessary anxiety and delays to your travel.
To request the 2019 – 2020 flu vaccination, please contact us.