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Coronavirus Update | Dr Andrew Kemp PhD | 18th March

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), and the infectious disease it causes, is currently raising a lot of questions and concerns. As the head of your scientific advisor board, I would like to give you some information on this topic so that you can correctly assess the problem, know how to protect yourself and others acquiring an infection, and how to behave in case of illness. 

We are still learning about COVID-19, so the information in this letter may change over time as we know more. I will try to keep everyone updated should important and significant information change. 

Coronaviruses cause various diseases in humans, from common colds to pneumonia. Not all infections with this corona virus are severe, and most cases reported to date in China have been mild. 

The main transmission route is via droplet infection. Droplet infections can occur directly from person to person via the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, or indirectly via hands which are then brought into contact with the eyes or the mucous membranes of the mouth or nose. 

Transmission via inanimate surfaces has not yet been documented, but is possible at least in theory. Infection via surfaces, such as imported goods, postal items or luggage therefore, appears unlikely. 

The incubation period, i.e. the time from infection to the appearance of the first symptoms of the disease, is on average 5 to 6 days, but can be up to 14 days. The following symptoms can occur in an infection (disease) individually, or in combination: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Dry cough 
  • Neck Scratching 
  • Headaches and aching limbs 
  • Rarely diarrhoea 

How to protect against infection: 

Apply Q shield at least once per day after washing and drying your hands. 

  • If you have to cough or sneeze, turn away. 
  • Use a paper tissue only 1x. Dispose of it afterwards in a bin with lid or flush down the toilet. 
  • In the absence of a handkerchief, cover your mouth and nose with the crook of your arm when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Allow at least 1 m distance between you and other persons. 
  • Avoid large crowds. 
  • Avoid shaking hands. 
  • Keep your hands away from your face. 
  • Important: After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • If you have a cold and you have to move around in public places, wear mouth/nose protection (e.g. surgical mask) to reduce the risk of infecting other people with droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. Be advised, however, there is not sufficient evidence that wearing a mask significantly reduces the risk of infection for a healthy person wearing it. If you do experience symptoms of a viral infection of the respiratory tract, consult with your supervisor/ manager and stay away from work if possible, to prevent the spread of infection to your colleagues. 

Currently there is no specific treatment against the novel coronavirus itself. The symptoms themselves can be treated, such as lowering fever or loosening mucus build-up. When to seek medical assistance must be decided individually, and is dependent on the severity of the disease and whether there are other relevant underlying diseases to consider.

I hope that the explanations I have given will help you to better protect yourself and those around you from catching this infectious disease. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Andrew Kemp JP, PhD 

Head of the BICSc Scientific Advisory Board