Media these days is full of news about (2019-nCoV) epidemic spreading all over the world. There is a general panic among people from all walks of life. The current outbreak that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019 has now been reported from several different countries. As of today, there are only 3 cases reported from India (all from Kerala) who are otherwise recovering. Mortality from this infection is reported in about 2 percent of patients.

Following recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) should be followed to protect your-self from 2019-nCoV infection:

1. Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
2. Practice respiratory hygiene: Cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing and sneezing, – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
3. Maintain social distancing of at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early; tell your health care provider if you have traveled in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has traveled from China and has respiratory symptoms.
6. Do not fear at all if you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China
7. As a general precaution, practice general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets
8. Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products

Answers of some common Questions

1. Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?
Yes, it is safe. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

2. Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.

3. Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?
No. Currently available vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

4. Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?
No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

5. Can gargling mouthwash protect you from infection with the new coronavirus?
No. There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.

6. Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?
Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

7. Does putting on sesame oil block the new coronavirus from entering the body?
No. Sesame oil does not kill the new coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surfaces. These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, either solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform.

8. Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

9. Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

10. Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).