Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCoV) Outbreak in China and other countries in the world

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) office in China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. During January 2020, it was reported by the WHO that the cases were caused by Coronavirus. This virus is officially known as the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Most of the initial cases identified, were linked to seafood, poultry and a live wildlife market (Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) in the Hubei Province of China. Researchers suspect that the virus was transmitted by infected animals to humans, the source is, however, not confirmed.

According to the Executive Manager of Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Department Community Services, Mr Clive Africa: “There have been no cases of the 2019-nCoV reported in South Africa because active surveillance is in place to identify an imported case should one occur. This includes fever screening at international airports. Procedures are also in place for case isolation, management, as well as rapid specimen collection and transport to speed up the diagnosis. Designated hospitals with isolation facilities have been identified and protocols to follow up case contacts to ensure that the virus is held at bay.

What is 2019-nCoV?

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Many different types of coronaviruses are found in animals, but some of them can be transferred to humans.

The 2019-nCoV is a zoonotic disease is that spreads between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans.

Who is at risk to contract 2019-nCoV?

 Any person who travelled to or from Wuhan city, Hubei Province in China and has been in close proximity of an infected person who shows symptoms of being infected. Healthcare workers who care for patients with severe acute respiratory infections. People who have been in contact with an animal or an animal source in countries where 2019-nCoV is prevalent (the animal source transmission is still undetermined). Those who have compromised immune systems, especially vulnerable age groups like infants and the elderly, are at high risk of contracting the virus.

 How is 2019-nCoV transmitted?

Exposure to an animal source is suspected, but it is also known that the virus can spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (airborne).

The majority of the infections, to date, occurred in people who had close physical contact with confirmed cases and in health workers caring for patients with 2019-nCoV.

Coronavirus can also be spread in the following ways:

  • Touching or shaking hands with a person that has the virus;
  • Making contact with a surface or object that has the virus and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth; and
  • Contact with faeces – on rare occasions.

What are the signs and symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection in humans?

The reported symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

How to protect yourself if the virus breaks out here

  • Wash your hands thoroughly on a regular basis (see six (6) steps when washing your hands);
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are or appear to be sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick;
  • Practice respiratory hygiene (covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, followed by hand hygiene;
  • Use disposable masks;
  • Dispose of waste (especially tissues and masks) in a responsible manner; and
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (diluted bleach solution =1-part bleach to 99 parts water).

Follow these six (6) steps when washing your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  6. Close the tap with the towel

For any additional information with regards to 2019-nCoV, please contact:

Executive Manager – Community Services: Clive Africa on 083 253 3928.

Manager – Municipal Health and Environmental Services: Johan Compion on 082 803 5161.