Doctor breaks down what you REALLY need to know about coronavirus – and insists people ‘don’t need to panic’
- Dr Preeya Alexander, based in Victoria, goes by The Wholesome Doctor online
- The mother-of-two said despite the media hysteria it’s milder than SARS
- There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment plan, just isolating patients
- Around the world there have been 81 confirmed deaths and 3,000 infected
An Australian doctor has brought some clarity to the hysteria surrounding the coronavirus epidemic and says while people need to be vigilant, there is no need to panic.
Dr Preeya Alexander, a general practitioner from Victoria who publishes medical insight on her The Wholesome Doctor Instagram handle, said although there have been confirmed cases in Australia, they appear to be milder than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The SARS outbreak, from November 2002 to July 2003, which also started in southern China, saw 774 deaths across 17 countries, meaning it was similar to what’s happening in Wuhan, China, and abroad.
But Dr Alexander said coronaviruses are more common than you think.
Dr Preeya Alexander (pictured) is a general practitioner from Victoria who goes by The Wholesome Doctor on Instagram
Although there have been five confirmed cases of Wahun coronavirus in Australia, they appear to be milder than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
‘They are found in humans and animals… you’ve probably had one of these viruses at some stage in your life,’ she wrote on Instagram.
Basically this virus may be more contagious based on data thus far, but less deadly.
‘The coronavirus currently causing issues around the world is a new one and it causes a respiratory illness (pneumonia) with a fever and difficulty breathing.’
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said tests proved humans caught it from animals at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market in Wuhan city.
‘There is some hysteria, as there often is in the media with these things, but this virus appears to be milder than SARS – it appears to be less lethal,’ Dr Alexander said.
‘So most experts are explaining that saying this virus is the next SARS is over blowing it. The elderly appear to be most at risk of complications.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said tests proved humans caught it from animals at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market in Wuhan city (doctors in Wahun pictured)
‘Basically this virus may be more contagious based on data thus far, but less deadly.’
People can reduce their risk of contracting it by practicing good hand hygiene, avoiding contact with sick people and avoiding contact with live or farm animals if in a risk area like China right now.
There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment plan in place other than isolating the patient.
While experts are still trying to figure out how it passes from one human to the next there is still no cause for mass alarm.
‘With global travel so easy these days it’s not surprising we have confirmed cases in Australia and other countries. It’s not a surprise and panic isn’t helpful or necessary,’ she said.
‘With global travel so easy these days it’s not surprising we have confirmed cases in Australia and other countries. It’s not a surprise and panic isn’t helpful or necessary,’ Dr Alexander said
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. Eighty-one people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere
A total of five cases have been confirmed in Australia, including four in NSW and one in Victoria, but another 13 people are being tested across three states, health officials said.
Of those 13 suspected cases, five are in NSW, four in Western Australia and four in Queensland.
The epidemic has so far claimed the lives of more than 80 people and infected nearly 3,000 in a month – but experts predict that number to be closer to 100,000.