The detection of the Coronavirus 229E in an infant recently is attributed to the use of better equipment at the National Referral Hospital’s molecular lab.

On Monday, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced that the hospital’s molecular lab had picked up a positive case of the Coronavirus 229E in one of the infants admitted at the hospital.

He went on to say that the Coronavirus 229E is an influenza-type infection and the baby had since recovered and discharged from the hospital.

Speaking to the press, Dr. Yogesh Choudary from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) says the Coronavirus 229E strain is different to that of COVID-19.

He says there are a number of coronaviruses and they have been around for years.

“The 229E causes minor illnesses in children, mainly runny nose, flu, fever and upper respiratory illnesses”, Dr. Yogesh says.

He says with the three type of test capabilities at the molecular lab, they now are able to test many more pathogens in the lab.

“This does not mean that this is the first time for Solomon Islands to have the coronavirus. It has been here for quite a while already”, Dr. Yogesh says.

However, he emphasised that the human coronavirus is different to that of COVID-19.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold.

CDC says most people get infected with one or more of these viruses at some point in their lives.

The Center says common human coronaviruses should not be confused with coronavirus disease 2019 (formerly referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus).

“Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.

Common human coronaviruses usually spread from an infected person to others through;

  • the air by coughing and sneezing
  • close personal contact, like touching or shaking hands
  • touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

The advice given by CDC is;

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

Protect others when you are sick by;

  • stay home while you are sick
  • avoid close contact with others
  • cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the national public health agency of the United States. It is a United States federal agency, under the Department of Health and Human Services.