If you are travelling overseas there are several things you can do to minimise the risk of infection not only of Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) but other infections as well. The World Health Organisation (WHO) offers a list of guidelines to reduce the risk of infection should you have to travel:

– Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub which is even more effective;

– When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth or nose with flexed elbow or tissue. Throw the tissue into a bin immediately after using it and wash your hands;

– Try to avoid close contact with anyone who shows signs of having a fever or who is coughing;

– If you are suffering from a fever, are coughing and/or having difficulty breathing seek medical care as soon as possible and let your health care practitioner know your travel history;

– If you are visiting markets with live animals in areas which have reported cases of novel coronavirus, then avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals or contact with surfaces that are in contact with animals;

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– Do not consume raw or undercooked animal products. Handle carefully any raw meat, milk or animal organs;

-Avoid the cross-contamination of cooked foods through contact with uncooked foods;

– If you show signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness before, during or after travel, you should seek medical attention and share your travel history with the health care practitioner;

– Before you travel make sure you get up-to-date information about the area you are travelling to from health practitioners, travel health clinics, travel agencies, conveyance operators or from the points of entry into a country should you travel; and

– The WHO has said that so far the main clinical signs and symptoms reported during the outbreak of novel coronavirus are: fever, difficulty in breathing and chest radiographs that show bilateral lung infiltrates.

The New South Wales Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant has issued a statement to rubbish a few myths about novel coronavirus that have been spread by way of social media:

– It is not true that you should avoid shopping centres and suburbs with a high number of Chinese Australians;

– You cannot get novel coronavirus from an imported package of food as the virus does not appear to last long on surfaces, so imported products do not pose risk of transmitting the virus;

– Taking garlic and sesame oil will not prevent you from contracting the disease. Good hygiene will. See the points about washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask, coughing/sneezing into a tissue or your elbow;

– The novel coronavirus has not mutated into a more lethal strain. The WHO has verified this; and

– You cannot contract the virus from your pet. While the novel coronavirus may have come from animals, domestic pets do not pose a threat to transmit the virus in Australia.
Dr Chant said the illness caused by the novel coronavirus appeared less severe than SARS or MERS.