In December 2019, a Novel Coronavirus outbreak emerged in China. The virus is known as the 2019 n-CoV and it represents a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously known to infect humans. It is believed to be a zoonotic disease, that is a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans, however it is now being spread mainly from person to person. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared nCoV outbreak in China a public health emergency of international concern, requiring all countries to develop capabilities for containment including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and to facilitate reporting to WHO. Currently, the virus has infected over 40,000 people worldwide, with most cases in China, resulting in more than 900 deaths.
While there is no confirmed case of 2019 nCoV in Uganda, there is a risk of importation of the disease into the country. Makerere University through its Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) is working with stakeholders to support public health efforts to prevent the spread of nCoV to Uganda. With support from United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an international non-governmental organization called Resolve to Save Lives, IDI is supporting implementation of national preparedness plans for 2019nCoV including adaptation of international guidelines to local context. In addition, leveraging on its ongoing efforts for prevention of Ebola virus disease, IDI is working to strengthen surveillance for 2019nCoV and to implement infection prevention and control measures for health workers and the general community. Key measures include frequent cleaning of hands either with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and respiratory hygiene (covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when sneezing and coughing).
Although there is no approved treatment or vaccine for 2019nCoV, Makerere University, through IDI and its partners has capabilities to conduct clinical research for vaccines and therapeutics prior to or during outbreaks. Makerere University remains committed to strengthening health systems and contributing towards the containment of emerging infectious diseases.
Source: MAKERERE University