The recent outbreak of COVID-19 out of China has the world on high alert. There is still a lot unknown about this disease process, but here is what we do know from the experts.

  • COVID-19 is from a virus family that can cause illness ranging from a mild common cold to severe chest infection.  Novel refers to a new strain.
  • Named because of its appearance with crown like spikes on the surface, they infect mostly bats, pigs and mammals, however can mutate easily and jump from animals to humans. So far it is believed to have originated in a large animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China. 
  • The virus causes illness in the lower respiratory tract. 
  • It can be similar to the common cold and be very mild with a headache and runny nose.
  • Other symptoms include, but are not exclusive of, cough, fever and breathing difficulties.I
  • n severe cases, such as with the medically vulnerable, it can lead to pneumonia and serious complications. There have been reports of individuals being mildly ill and then rapidly becoming unwell.
  • Some individuals have tested positive without having any symptoms at all.
  • It is spread through saliva and respiratory droplets – when a person coughs or sneezes or kisses another.
  • It is spread easily through close contact.
  • Currently the incubation period to when individuals become unwell is between 2 and 14 days after infection.

WHO recommends avoiding travel to mainland China.

Some cities around the world are screening passengers, asking questions about health and recording temperatures. The data is then collated and analysed which is how we are getting the information on the spread of the disease.

Just like the common cold or flu, the best way to reduce the spread of infection is to: 

  • Keep up hand hygiene!!! Wash hands regularly with soap and water and if not practical use alcohol gel.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, and dispose of tissues.
  • Stay away from others, avoid close contact with crowds, workplaces.
  • Use cough etiquette – cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with flexed elbow, then wash hands.
  • Avoid contact with live wild or farm animals while travelling.
  • Contact your doctor to discuss if you have come from China recently, or have been in close contact with someone who has or suspects COVID-19.
  • Avoid public areas such as waiting rooms.


For up-to-date information on COVID-19 refer to