How to protect yourself against coronavirus

Jan 30, 2020
Australia’s Department of Health is recommending that you take simple precautions to reduce your risk of getting coronavirus. Source: Getty.

The outbreak of novel coronavirus originated in a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and the the previously unknown virus has so far infected more than 4,500 people and killed at least 107, mostly within China.

But over the weekend, Australia confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus, joining a handful of countries also affected. There are now seven confirmed cases of the virus within Australia, four in New South Wales, two in Victoria and one in Queensland. 

What can I do to protect myself?

It’s been reported that the new virus can be spread from human-to-human. However, how easily the virus can spread remains unknown.

Australia’s Department of Health is recommending that you take simple precautions to reduce your risk of becoming infected. Like you’d do to protect yourself during a regular flu season, the Department of Health says to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing and avoid contact with wild or farm animals.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy suggests people who have coronavirus-like symptoms and have recently been to Wuhan to seek medical attention. Symptoms of coronaviruses range from coughing, fever and headaches, to more serious complications like breathing difficulties which may develop into pneumonia.

“If you develop flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, contact either your GP or your local emergency department, tell them before you come that you’ve had a relevant travel history to China and attend to be tested,” he said in a press conference on Monday. “The majority of people that have been tested turn out to be negative.”

Additionally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends avoiding close contact with anyone who has fever and cough. WHO also says to practice safe food handling:

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products
  • Use different chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked foods
  • Wash your hands between handling raw and cooked food.

Meanwhile, if you’re considering travelling to any destination with detected cases of coronavirus, Smartraveller strongly recommends talking with your doctor before travelling if you have a weak immune system. According to NSW Health, it’s likely that people with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease and the elderly are at greater risk than others.

Smartraveller also suggests reading the travel advice for your destination. For example, Australians have been told to reconsider travelling to China.

“Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus we now advise you reconsider your need to travel to China overall and do not travel to Hubei Province,” a statement on the website read. “Chinese authorities have restricted travel for parts of the country and may extend these restrictions at short notice.”

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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