Ecolab, a global leader in infection prevention solutions and expertise, is following the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak closely and providing guidance to help reduce the risk of infection.
Public health officials have identified a new coronavirus, 2019 n-CoV, that was first discovered in China’s Hubei province. The virus causes fever and respiratory symptoms, and has infected tens of thousands of people, with hundreds of reported deaths to date.
The origin of this virus has not yet been confirmed, but it may spread from an infected person to others through coughing or sneezing or very close personal contact, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
At this time, the largest number of cases have been reported in China, but cases have been confirmed in many countries throughout the world in people who have previously visited China.
What is a coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus with an envelope, which mainly cause symptoms of respiratory and intestinal diseases. There are many regularly arranged protrusions on the surface of this type of virus particle, and the entire virus particle is like an emperor's crown, hence the name "coronavirus."
At the moment, there are six known human coronaviruses. Four of these coronaviruses are less pathogenic, generally causing only minor respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold. Two other coronaviruses—Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) —can cause serious respiratory diseases.
The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is different from these six known coronaviruses and requires further scientific research.
How is a coronavirus transmitted?
Transmission depends on the particular coronavirus. Human coronaviruses may spread from an infected person to others through:
- The air by coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
Person-to-person transmission is occurring to some extent with 2019-nCoV.
How can you reduce the risk of coronavirus infection?
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against human coronavirus infection, but you may be able to reduce your risk of infection through the following:
- Wash your hands often and correctly
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- In regions where excessive cases are being reported, avoid areas where live animals are being sold or raised
- If you have fever or other symptoms after traveling home, you should wear a mask and call your doctor.
For coronavirus information related to infection prevention in healthcare settings, click here.
Additional regulatory information on coronavirus 2019-nCoV can be found here.