How to protect yourself from Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19)

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Coronavirus
People wear face masks as they walk through a shopping mall in Taipei, Taiwan [Chiang Ying-ying/AP]
Global death toll reaches 427 with two reported dead outside mainland China as the number of COVID-19 infections passes 20,500.

Last year on December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) China office heard the first reports of a previously-unknown virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in Eastern China with a population of over 11 million.

Since then, the virus has infected more than 20,438 people in mainland China, with a further 153 cases reported from 23 other countries. Although the disease is mostly confined to China, where each of its provinces and territories have reported infections, coronavirus ( COVID-19) has reached as far as the US, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Canada and South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and Finland.

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At least 420 people have died in China, which means that the death toll from coronavirus ( COVID-19) has now exceeded that of the Sars outbreak in 2002 and 2003. Two person has also died outside of China – a 44-year-old man in the Philippines who was a resident of Wuhan and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong who had traveled by train to Wuhan in January.

Hong Kong reported its first death from the new coronavirus (COVID-19) on Tuesday February 4, 2020 – only the second outside mainland China – as the death toll from the outbreak rose to at least 425 and China admitted “shortcomings and difficulties” in its response to the flu-like infection.

The Chinese government has responded to the outbreak by placing Wuhan and nearby cities under a de-facto quarantine encompassing over 30 million people. In the UK, British Airways has suspended all direct flights to China, while Hong Kong has suspended trains and halved the number of flights from the Chinese mainland.

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Sylvie Briand
Sylvie Briand, director of global infectious hazard preparedness at WHO

On January 30, the WHO designated coronavirus ( COVID-19) a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC), indicating that international action will be required to contain the outbreak. In the past decade only five other PHEIC announcements have been made.

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