“Novel” Coronavirus

“Novel” Coronavirus

What is the ‘novel’ coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus.

The disease caused by the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease.

Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’

The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.

The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal.

These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. It’s important to remember that key prevention measures are the same – frequent hand washing, and respiratory hygiene (cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue into a closed bin).

How can I avoid the risk of infection?

Here are four precautions you and your family can take to avoid infection:

1. Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

2. Cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose used tissue immediately.

3. Cut close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.

4. Seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Should I wear a mask?

The use of a mask is advised to protect others even if you have no symptoms. 

After masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus.

The use of a mask alone is not enough to stop infections and must be combined with frequent hand washing with soap and maintaining physical distance.

Does COVID-19 affect children?

COVID-19 is a new virus, and we are still learning about how it affects children and pregnant women. We know people of any age can be infected and transmit the virus. However, older people and/or those with pre-existing medical conditions seem more likely to develop severe illness. Cold, mild cough, fever, and body pain are the common symptoms of infection. We have also noted that other symptoms such as pain in the abdomen, loose motions, and vomiting are also present in children.

Clinical features or symptoms affecting children and adolescents, possibly associated with COVID-19, can include but are not limited to: 

fever, headache, body pain, tiredness, cough, breathlessness,  poor feeding,  loss of taste or smell (in a child more than eight years old),  rash,  red or pink eyes,  swollen and/or red lips, tongue, hands, feet, gastrointestinal problems (diarrhoea, vomiting).

What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive?

Seek medical attention. If advised by the doctor, then get your child tested for COVID-19. If advised by a doctor isolate/stay home.

  • Record temperature and oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter if available at home, every 6 hours. Measure their temperature frequently. If it is more than 100-degree F, then you can do tepid sponging with tap water and give them syrup or tablet paracetamol. If fever is >100°F, give paracetamol 10–15 mg/kg/dose.
  • Continue to follow good hand and respiratory hygiene practices like regular handwashing with soap so that your child is protected against other viruses and bacteria causing diseases.
  • Continue to follow personal protective measures for yourself and your child. Your child should wear a surgical mask anytime they are around people. Change the mask after eight hours of continuous wear. Caregivers interacting with the child should wear gloves and a mask.
  • Feed your child home-cooked food and keep them well hydrated. Give plenty of liquids and give a soft and light diet. One may give vitamin C, zinc to boost overall health and immunity
  • Other nutritional supplements like syrup multivitamin, Vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium can be given as per their doctor’s advice.

Be watchful for danger signs and if any of these signs are present, seek urgent medical advice at your nearest hospital.

  • Indrawing of chest
  • Grunting sounds
  • The child looks pale or blue
  • Peripheries feel cold
  • Sunken eyeballs and dry mouth
  • Not passed urine for more than 3- 4 hours (for children less than 5 years of age)
  • Refusing to feed
  • Looks drowsy or lethargic
  • Abnormal body movement
  • Severe diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain.

What is the best way to wash hands properly?

Step 1: Wet hands with running water

Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands

Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including back of hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds

Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water

Step 5: Dry hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel

Wash your hands often, especially before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; and going to the bathroom.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water, if hands are visibly dirty.

What precautions should I take for my family if we travel?

Anyone planning a trip overseas should always check the travel advisory for their destination country for any restrictions on entry, quarantine requirements on entry, or other relevant travel advice.

In addition to taking standard travel precautions, and in order to avoid being quarantined or denied re-entry into your home country, you are also advised to check the latest COVID-19 update on the International Air Transport Association website, which includes a list of countries and restriction measures.

While traveling, all parents should follow standard hygiene measures for themselves and their children: Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol, practice good respiratory hygiene (cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and immediately dispose of the used tissue) and avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

In addition, it is recommended that parents always carry a hand sanitizer, pack of disposable tissues, and disinfecting wipes.

Additional recommendations include: Clean your seat, armrest, touchscreen, etc. with a disinfecting wipe once inside an aircraft or other vehicle. Also use a disinfecting wipe to clean key surfaces, doorknobs, remote controls, etc at the hotel or other accommodation where you and your children are staying.

Can pregnant women pass coronavirus to unborn children?

At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, or the potential impact this may have on the baby. This is currently being investigated. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, and seek medical care early, if experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with coronavirus?

All mothers in affected and at-risk areas who have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care early, and follow instructions from a health care provider.

Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother can continue breastfeeding, while applying all the necessary precautions.

For symptomatic mothers well enough to breastfeed, this includes wearing a mask when near a child (including during feeding), washing hands before and after contact with the child (including feeding), and cleaning/disinfecting contaminated surfaces – as should be done in all cases where anyone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 interacts with others, including children.

If a mother is too ill, she should be encouraged to express milk and give it to the child via a clean cup and/or spoon – all while following the same infection prevention methods.

Source: UNICEF

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