The World Health Organization was alerted on New Year’s Eve to a number of cases of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, China – a virus like none seen before.
A week later Chinese authorities identified the new virus as coronavirus, It has now affected hundreds of people in China, and killed at least 17. The city has now been quarantined.
In Australia, health authorities confirmed a man was being tested for coronavirus in Brisbane after arriving from Wuhan.
New figures show there were 678 visitors from China last year – Cook Islands’ fastest-growing tourism market.
Cook Islands Public Health Director Dr Tereapii Uka said the virus affected both humans and animals.
“It is important that people be vigilant and look after themselves,” he said. “It is a respiratory problem and some have died from the virus.”
The Ministry was raising awareness as people arrived at Rarotonga International Airport, as they did with dengue and measles.
“The ministry continues to do this awareness efforts,” Dr Uka said. “This virus is new and I have spoken to the team this morning we need to be prepared for anything.”
According to the World Health Organization, common signs of the infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
The Organization is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions at this stage, but countries are encouraged to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies.
Read more: * Pacific vulnerable to virus
· Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
· When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
· Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
· If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
· When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
· The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.