MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that caused SARS.Reuters

The Union Health Ministry has issued an advisory to travellers visiting China due to novel coronavirus outbreak in the country. A statement released by the health ministry said, "An infection with a novel coronavirus has been reported from China."

"Till January 11, 41 confirmed cases have been reported so far, of which one has died. Only travel-related cases have been reported (one each) in Thailand and Japan. The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing."

In this article, we look at the symptoms, risks and everything you need to know about the mysterious virus outbreak.

What is Coronavirus?

  • Coronavirus is a type of virus that affects the respiratory tract of humans.
  • They are associated with the common cold, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • Also, affects the gut.
  • Coronaviruses were given the name based on the crown-like projections on their surfaces.
  • "Corona" in Latin means "halo" or "crown."
  • Among humans, the infection often occurs during the winter months as well as early spring.
  • It is common for a person to become ill with a cold that is caused by a coronavirus and then catch it again about four months later.
(Picture for representation)Creative commons

How does it spread?

Coronavirus can easily be transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact such as hand-shape and even touching, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

'Travellers asked to follow public health measures': Health Ministry

"The mode of transmission is unclear as of now. However, so far there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission. Although as per the World Health Organization's risk assessment the risk for global spread has been stated as low, as a matter of abundant precaution," it said.

The Health Ministry has directed travellers to China in particular Wuhan city to monitor their health closely. "Travellers have been asked to follow simple public health measures and maintain a good standard of hygiene," it added.

Advisory issued by Ministry of Health

As a matter of precaution, travellers to China are advised the following:

  • Travellers to China should follow simple public health measures at all times as under:
    • Observe good personal hygiene
    • Practice frequent handwashing with soap
    • Follow respiratory etiquettes - cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
    • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose etc.
    • Avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meats
    • Avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered
    • Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose
  • All travellers to China (in particular Wuhan city) to monitor their health closely.
  • If you feel sick and have a fever and cough:
    • Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing
    • Don't plan travels if sick
    • Seek medical attention promptly
  • If you feel sick on the flight, while travelling back to India:
    • Inform the airline's crew about illness
    • Seek mask from the airline's crew
    • Avoid close contact with family members or fellow travellers
    • Follow the directions of airline crew while disembarking
  • If you feel sick on a flight or at the time of disembarkation:
    • Report to airport health authorities/immigration
    • Follow the direction of the airport health officer
  • If you feel sick within a span of one month after return from China:
    • Report the illness to the nearest health facility and also inform the treating doctor regarding your travel history