There is a lot of information and misinformation around about the coronavirus, about the risks and the availability of facemasks to prevent spread of the disease.
As has been reported, the coronavirus was first found in Wuhan, Hubai Province, in central China. The majority of cases have been in mainland China.
Much like other respiratory viruses, the evidence is that the coronavirus is transmitted person-to-person either via direct close contact, close contact with someone with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated by droplets from coughs or sneezes.
Currently in Australia, those at most risk of contracting the virus are those who have visited mainland China recently or for people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus.
As with other viruses such as the seasonal flu, this can affect some people a lot more than others. Some people may not get sick at all, some may get mild symptoms that they get over quickly and others can become very sick very quickly.
The concern about the coronavirus is that the death rates appear to be about two per cent, which is a lot higher than other viruses such as the seasonal flu which has a death rate of 0.05 per cent.
From previous experience, the people at the most risk from serious infection are:
- People with immune systems that are not working properly (cancer patients, HIV patients, chronically ill)
- Elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and;
- Very young children and babies
Prevention is far better than cure with coronavirus. Washing your hands frequently with soap, avoiding direct contact with other people and coughing and sneezing into your elbow will help prevent the spread of this virus.
People may also wish to purchase and wear a face mask. Currently these are not recommended as face masks do not protect against infection if you are healthy, but are useful to prevent transmission from those infected.
The Australian Government’s Department of Health state that “Face masks are not currently recommended for use by healthy members of the public for the prevention of infections like novel coronavirus.”
If you have any further questions or concerns, please talk to your pharmacist or doctor.