What is it?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with MERS and SARS.
About the outbreak
On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China associated with a live seafood market. In addition to seafood, this market also sold chickens, bats, marmots and other wild animals.
Cases linked with the outbreak have presented with fever, difficulty breathing and bilateral lung infiltrates on a chest radiograph. This coronavirus cluster was recognized early and as a result, public health officials have had a head start in containment and directed treatment planning, although no targeted treatment is available. People with confirmed novel coronavirus are receiving generic antiviral treatment.
As a MediHelp insurance member what can I expect?
While this is a rapidly evolving situation, based on the information to date, the virus is not considered an epidemic or pandemic and you can rest assured there is no change to your MediHelp insurance coverage. For members in affected countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised to avoid unprotected contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical attention, according to local regulations, if you develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, inform your health service provider prior to attendance about your recent travel to the city.
Adopt Universal Precaution for acute respiratory infections by:
- Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
- Frequent handwashing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment;
- Avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals;
- Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands);
- Wear a surgical mask if travelling to high risk areas such as hospitals and international airports, as the virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.
Additional information can be found on the WHO website at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019