No reason to be alarmed about new coronavirus
There have been reports that a novel coronavirus in Saudi Arabia has caused serious respiratory illness in two people; one has died and the other remains in critical condition.
“Coronaviruses are common and typically cause mild respiratory illness, like the common cold,” says Dr. Reena Lovinsky, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control with The Scarborough Hospital. “Although SARS was a coronavirus, this is not the SARS virus. New virus strains often appear and the vast majority never turn into a pandemic virus.”
Coronaviruses generally spread in droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In this case, however, there is no evidence that the virus can spread from human to human. The two men who got sick with the disease seem to have contracted it separately, months apart.
Despite the isolated nature of these cases, it’s still important for hospitals to be aware of and prepared for new viruses. The Scarborough Hospital has procedures in place to ensure patients are screened for symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever, new cough and/or shortness of breath. Patients will also be asked if they have recently traveled to Saudi Arabia or Qatar
“At TSH we follow recommendations from the Ministry of Health. Any patients who have recently travelled to areas where the new coronavirus has been reported and who have a respiratory illness will be isolated using airborne and contact precautions,” says Dr. Lovinsky.
Those precautions include putting the patient in a negative pressure room and having staff wear a gown, gloves, eye protection and N95 mask when in that room.
While coronaviruses are typically associated with mild upper respiratory illness, in rare instances some types of the virus produce more severe illnesses, particularly in infants, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.
As with any virus, simple things such as proper hand hygiene and education can go a long way to prevent infection.
People who recently lived in or travelled (less than 10 days) to Saudi Arabia who develop mild respiratory symptoms should stay home. If their symptoms worsen they should seek medical attention at their nearest hospital and be sure to let their health-care providers know about their travel history.
“There is no reason to be alarmed at this time about the novel coronavirus. Currently only two cases have been identified and the situation is being closely monitored worldwide,” said Dr. Lovinsky. “But at this point we are approaching flu season, and it is recommended that people protect themselves by getting vaccinated. Vaccinations will be available over the next month.”
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .