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Protecting frontline workers

09 July 2020
2 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 13

In December 2019, news of a strange new illness, mainly in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in China, came through social media. Little was known about the virus until 11 February 2020, when it was named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (World Health Organization (WHO), 2020a). Although a member of the family of coronaviruses and similar to the virus implicated in the SARS outbreak of 2003, virologists have reported some differences, making COVID-19 a novel coronavirus.

By mid-February, the virus had crossed borders to other parts of the world, especially Europe, leading to the WHO declaring COVID-19 a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ on 30 January 2020 (WHO, 2020b).

In a global quest to find the mode of transmission of the virus causing COVID-19, a variety of symptoms have been reported. Some patients experience severe pneumonia-like symptoms, while others have symptoms similar to those of common flu. All infected persons can spread the virus to others, including health workers, through droplets when sneezing, coughing or exhaling. A grimmer scenario is presented in a report by Wei et al (2020) that a source patient who is asymptomatic can spread the virus for 1 to 3 days before becoming symptomatic.

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