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February 03, 2020

The world over is currently on high alert as global health officials battle the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus which, according to the latest news reports, has claimed 170 lives so more.


The world over is currently on high alert as global health officials battle the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus which, according to the latest news reports, has claimed 170 lives so far.

The virus, which has been identified to be zoonotic, can spread from animals to humans. It was flagged by the World Health Organization (WHO) in early January 2020.

So far, cases of the virus – which was first detected in mainland China – have been confirmed in Japan, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Republic of Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, United States of America and France. In Africa, one suspected case has been reported in the Ivory Coast.

While there are no reported or suspected cases of the virus in South Africa, the country nonetheless remains on high alert.

The virus is highly contagious and spreads from one infected person to another through means such as coughing and sneezing, and close personal contact.

With China being a major trading partner with South Africa and Africa, which includes cross migration and travels by our staff and students, South Africa is also vulnerable to the virus.

It is therefore important to understand the risk and prevention measures on this fast spreading virus as communicated by WHO, the National Department of Health, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus
• Fever, sore throat
• Coughing and sneezing
• Difficulty in breathing
• Runny nose and headaches
• General feeling of malaise

Who is most at risk?
• Those with a weak immune system
• The elderly and young
• Any person with a documented travel history to China within 14 days before symptom onset
• Close physical contact with a confirmed patient with the Coronavirus
• Healthcare worker/s who have been exposed to patients with severe acute respiratory infections
• Direct contact with animal source or humans, in countries where the coronavirus is known

How it spreads
Commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
• The air by coughing and sneezing
• Close personal contact; touching or shaking hands
• Touching contaminated objects and not washing hands

How to keep safe
There is currently no vaccine available to protect one against the Coronavirus infection. Transmission can be reduced through:
• washing hands with soap and water
• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands
• Avoid contact with people who are infected with the virus
• Should you feel unwell ensure that you are taking adequate fluids and on bed rest
• If you are experiencing any symptoms associated to the virus, please seek medical attention

I urge anyone experiencing any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms to seek assistance from a registered medical practitioner, campus healthcare staff, etc.

*HIGHER HEALTH (Higher Education and Training Health, Wellness and Development Centre) is currently liaising closely with the National Department of Health and NICD to keeping abreast with the developments. Parallelly, the organisation is working with existing campus clinics, Campus Health and Wellness Co-ordinators, and other relevant staff to provide information and support on the growing epidemic so that students who call at the clinics are adequately assisted.

Issued by
Mr Ashton Bodrick
Executive Director: Corporate Relations Division

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