UPDATE: As of 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization has now characterized COVID-19 a pandemic.

Read more HERE

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). On 7 January, a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans was discovered in China, known as coronavirus, which encompasses a family of viruses such as the common cold, SARS, and MER. The virus was originally reported from a seafood and animal market in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The new virus was named 2019-nCoV, novel coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people, and common species include camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Detailed investigations, however, found that animal coronaviruses can infect people and spread between people, as in the case of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization, declared the novel coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. On 11 February 2020, the World Health Organization renamed the virus COVID-2019.  

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth and can spread from person-to-person when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. Droplets may land on objects or surfaces around an infected person and others may catch COVID-19 when touching objects or surfaces, followed by touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

It is important to keep 1 meter away from a person who is sick because people may catch COVID-19 by breathing in droplets when an infected person coughs or exhales droplets.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and tiredness. Associated symptoms may include aches and pains, sneezing/runny nose, and sore throat. It is possible to become infected without developing symptoms. Older adults and those with underlying medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are more likely to develop severe illness.

Cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on six continents. To date, there 104 confirmed cases in Rwanda, all in stable condition and 4 recovered which means 100 active cases. Rwanda continues to work closely with the World Health Organization to implement necessary prevention measures and continues to strengthen surveillance activities.

To prevent the spread of the virus, keep the following tips in mind:

  • WASH HANDS: With soap and water for at least 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and dry with a clean towel or air dry.
  • AVOID CONTACT: It is important to maintain at least 1-meter distance from anyone showing signs and symptoms. If you are sick, stay home from work and avoid contact with others.
  • WHEN SNEEZING OR COUGHING: Cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. Throw tissue away and immediately wash hands.

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth and can spread from person-to-person when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. Droplets may land on objects or surfaces around an infected person and others may catch COVID-19 when touching objects or surfaces, followed by touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

It is possible for the virus to spread before exhibiting symptoms, however people are most contagious when they are symptomatic.

Diagnostic testing is currently being conducted in public health laboratories with a test kit.

If you develop symptoms including fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, stay home and contact your nearest health facility or call our toll-free number 114. A healthcare professional will determine if you have signs and symptoms COVID-10 and whether you should be tested.

Those affected are treated with supportive care to relieve symptoms.

If you are experiencing any signs and symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Content sources: CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO World Health Organization, March 2020