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On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) China country office reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been confirmed as the causative virus of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Several provinces in China and other countries have also reported cases. Most cases to date have links to China and person-to-person spread has been confirmed.
While the first cases probably involved exposure to an animal source, the virus now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It is thought to happen mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Thus far the majority of cases have occurred in people with close physical contact to cases and healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19.
Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included
- mild to severe respiratory illness with cough,
- sore throat,
- shortness of breath or fever [≥ 38°C (measured)
- or history of fever (subjective).
The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is still not fully clear. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
COVID-19 is diagnosed by a laboratory test, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular test, on a respiratory tract sample (e.g. sample from nose, throat or chest). For specific guidance on sample collection and transport please visit the NICD’s website: http://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/
The test is carried out by NICD , Lancet Laboratories or a government approved mobile testing station.
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