Department on alert for virus


PAPUA New Guinea has started emergency preparations to deal with the novel coronavirus, a health official says.
The Health Department’s public health division executive manager Dr Esorom Daoni said the department was currently working to secure all entry ports in the country.
He said the department had already started preparations with Air Niugini and PNG Ports.
Daoni said the department would hold a press conference tomorrow to inform the public on its preparations.
Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the Health Department was now putting in place a system to screen incoming passengers who had cough, fever and shortness of breath and had travelled to Wuhan, Hubei province in China in the past 14 days.
The latest information on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) showed that there was at least some human-to-human transmission.
Infections among health care workers strengthened the evidence for this.
WHO advised the public to reduce the risk of infection by practicing hand and respiratory hygiene and food safety.
Among the tips on protecting one self and reducing the risk of contracting the coronavirus infection are:

  • Hand hygiene;
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing;
  • Thoroughly cook meat and eggs;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with respiratory illness; and,
  • Avoid close contact with wild or live farm animals.

According to CNN, a new Chinese coronavirus, a cousin of the SARS virus, had infected hundreds since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December.
Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans.
“What we know is it causes pneumonia and then doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising, but then in terms of mortality, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) kills 10 per cent of the individuals,” Poon, a virologist at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong, said.
It’s not clear how deadly the Wuhan coronavirus will be.
WHO offered guidance to countries on how they could prepare for it, including how to monitor for the sick and how to treat patients.
According to health experts the Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals.
In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.
For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.
The viruses can spread from human contact with animals. Scientists think MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) started in camels, according to the WHO. With SARS, scientists suspected civet cats were to blame.
When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with the infected person’s secretions.
Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure.
The virus can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Caregivers can sometimes be exposed by handling a patient’s waste, according to the CDC.
There is no specific treatment. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own.