Sat. Feb 29th, 2020

China Medical Aid Team Provides the most common Q&A on novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

APIA, 13 FEBRUARY 2020 (SAMOA GOVT) —Q: What is a coronavirus?

A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Q: What is a “novel” coronavirus?

A: A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, now called COVID-19, had not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Q: How dangerous is it?

A: As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

Q: Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

A: No, at present there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or have spread 2019-nCoV

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when a person, for example, coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. It is important that everyone practice good respiratory hygiene. For example, sneeze or cough into a flexed elbow, or use a tissue and discard it immediately into a closed bin. It is also very important for people to wash their hands regularly with either alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Q: Is it safe to receive a package from China or any other place where the virus has been identified?

A: Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

Q: What can I do to protect myself?

A: There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Right now, COVID-19 has not been found to be spreading in Samoa, so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take. However, as a reminder, CMT (China Medical Aid Team) always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Q: What about products imported from China?

A: Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperature, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S.