Coronavirus: A Global Health Emergency of International Concern
There is still a lot unknown about the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), however, current knowledge is mostly based on the intel of existing coronaviruses including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) 1. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019-nCoV a global health emergency of international concern. The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated: “The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, which are ill-prepared to deal with it” 2.
WHO recommend educating all and increasing knowledge of the 2019-nCoV. The aim of this article is to provide further information on the 2019-nCoV to aid in combatting the mass hysteria through education.
About the 2019-nCoV
The 2019-nCoV belongs to a large family of respiratory viruses with illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. 2019-nCoV is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans 3. Coronaviruses are common in a variety of animal species including: bats, cats, cattle and camels 1. Coronaviruses are zoonotic which means the virus can be transmitted between animals and humans. SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats and MERS-CoV was transmitted from dromedary camels 3. Zoonotic viruses are commonplace with approximately 60% of current infectious diseases and 75% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans being zoonotic according to the UNEP Frontiers 2019 Report: Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern, with approximately one new infectious disease emerging in humans every four months 4.
2019-nCoV Transmission & Prevention
The exact origin of the 2019-nCoV is unknown and the analysis of the genetic trees of this virus is ongoing, however ‘it is important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on continuum’. Currently, it is unclear on how contagious the 2019-nCoV is 5. It is believed that the spread of the 2019-nCoV virus is similar to that of other respiratory pathogens (influenza). It is believed that the spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs and lands in the mouth or noses or possibly inhaled into the lunch of people nearby (about 6 feet). It is unclear at this time if the 2019-nCoV can be caught via touching surfaces or objects that have the virus and then touching their nose, mouth and possibly eyes.
It is important to understand that the transmissibility and severity of viruses vary and there is still much to learn about the 2019-nCoV 6. Whilst there is no vaccine to prevent the transmissibility of the 2019-nCoV, daily steps can be taken to aid in the prevention of the spread, similar to that of respiratory infections in general 7:
1. Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet, before eating, after blowing your nose, sneezing and coughing.
2. If soap and/or water is not readily available, alcohol-based (minimum 60% alcohol) hand sanitisers can be used.
3. Avoid toughing mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.
4. Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
5. Stay at home when you are sick.
6. Always cover coughs and sneezing with a tissue and discard in a bin.
7. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning wipe or spray.
It is vitally important to get tested if you believe you have the 2019-nCoV which can aid in preventing the further transmissibility of the virus.
Randox Coronavirus Arrays
Randox are developing a rapid test for the 2019-nCoV which will utilise the Randox Biochip Technology, with results available within 3 hours on the Vivalytic and with 5 hours on the Randox Evidence Investigator.
The Randox Novel Coronavirus Array detects the 2019-nCoV strain quickly and accurately, enabling effective and accurate medical protocols to be actioned.
The Randox Extended Coronavirus Array encompasses multiple strains of the coronaviruses including: 2019-nCoV, 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKUI. The wider panel provides a comprehensive coronavirus screening panel, enabling effective and accurate medical protocols to be actioned.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020) How 2019-nCoV Spreads, Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html (Accessed: 7 February 2020).
 DW News (2020) Coronavirus: WHO declares global health emergency, Available at: https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-who-declares-global-health-emergency/a-52209762 (Accessed: 7 February 2020).
 World Health Organization (WHO) (2020) Coronavirus, Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus (Accessed: 7 February 2020).
 Lesney MS. 2019-nCoV: Just a Stop on the Zoonotic Highway. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/924552 (accessed 7 February 2020).
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html (accessed 7 February 2020).
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How 2019-nCoV Spreads. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html (accessed 7 February 2020).
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prevention & Treatment. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html (accessed 7 February 2020).