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Professor Tsakris offers advice about the coronavirus

A worldwide effort is underway to map the characteristics of the new 2019-nCoV coronavirus, Vice Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Director of the Laboratory of Microbiology at the Medical School, Professor Athanasios Tsakris, said on Tuesday in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency's (ANA) radio station Praktoreio 104.9 FM.

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He explained that efforts are being made to find out its incubation time, how fast it spreads, and what its capacity to kill is.

Tsakris said that new cases are already being recorded in Europe almost daily - most of them imported from China, of course, with very few cases contracted within the countries involved. Greece may have less contact with and fewer travelers from China or the areas where the situation is progressing than other parts of Europe, but the virus continues to be a real danger and therefore measures are being taken, he added.

Asked what the key is for limiting its spread, he said: "China is now focused on slowing the rate at which it spreads. Based on the current data, this virus can also be spread by patients that present a mild clinical picture."

Tsakris noted that the virus can also be transmitted during the period incubation, before the patient exhibits any symptoms. He underlined that the symptoms are similar to those of flu, as there are many common traits between flu and the new virus. In practice, he added, the same precautionary measures apply for coronavirus, as with flu. "In this case, of course, there is no vaccine, there is no special immunity for the population, he added.

Asked whether it is safe to travel, he replied: the precautions should be even more intensive for those planning to travel to areas where the epidemic is developing - there is a recommendation to avoid travel to all those areas - but if absolutely necessary, there must be stringent adoption of respiratory hygiene and protection from respiratory complaints.