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Health Alert: Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus Infection In China


What is Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that 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).


What is a novel coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.  The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. When it started, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.


What are the Symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus?

Patients with confirmed coronavirus infection will show up with symptoms of:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties

In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 


What can I do to protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.  Fortunately, 2019-nCoV has not been found in Ghana. However, it is recommended that the following preventive actions should be taken:

  • 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



Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for coronavirus infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. People who think they may have been exposed to the virus should visit the nearest healthcare facility immediately.


Travellers from affected countries (China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and United Arab Emirates)

For persons who have travelled to any of the above countries who feel sick and start having any of the symptoms of the virus should:

  • Seek medical care right away
  • Stay at home unless leaving to seek medical attention
  • Do not travel while sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when sneezing or coughing
  • Wash hands with soup and under running water or use an alcohol hand rub
  • Travellers from the affected countries who feel sick and start showing any of the symptoms should visit the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, Tema General Hospital or Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.


Remember, prevention is always better than cure!