The DGHS has said it is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and closely monitoring the situation
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has said that no 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases have yet been detected in Bangladesh.
But the authorities are alert and closely monitoring the situation, since the virus has already been detected in other countries in light of people of some nations travelling to the affected regions in China, it said on Thursday.
The Disease Control unit of the DGHS let it be known that it was working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and closely monitoring the situation.
The DGHS organized a press conference in Dhaka to give an update about the overall situation and initiatives taken to prevent the spread of the virus in the country.
Dr Sanya Tahmina, Line Director, Communicable Disease Control (CDC), said: "We have already screened more than 900 passengers who travelled from China. No such cases have been detected yet in Bangladesh. Two passengers were tested and found infected with influenza.
"All of the entry points in the country have been kept on alert. We have taken precautionary measures, including screening programs at two international airports -- Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka and Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong," she added.
Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said: "Bangladesh is at risk of the Novel Coronavirus as the country has close relations with China for business and tourism purposes. But none should panic, with the DGHS prepared to face the situation.
"A special ward has been prepared at Kurmitola General Hospital in the capital in case anybody is detected to be carrying the virus. We have also reagents ready for laboratory tests," Flora said.
According to WHO, as of Thursday, the total number of confirmed Novel Coronavirus cases is more than 500, including 473 in mainland China (including Beijing, Shanghai and southern Guangdong province), four in Thailand, and one each in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the US. Besides, at least 15 health workers have also been affected.
Till Wednesday, 17 people died due to the virus attack.
On December 31, 2019, WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei province of China. The virus did not match any other known virus. This raised concerns because when a virus is new, doctors do not know how it affects people.
On January 7, the Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified the new virus, coronavirus, which was temporarily named 2019-nCoV.
The 2019-nCoV is a new strain of coronaviruses and has not been previously seen in humans. Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses and the illness they cause can range from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
People affected by the Novel Coronavirus usually have fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, pneumonia and kidney failure.
How to protect oneself from getting infected
WHO's standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:
● Cleaning hands frequently by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
● When coughing and sneezing, one has to cover one's mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. After the use of tissue, it has to be thrown away immediately into a closed bin and one has to wash hands
● Avoiding close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
● If a person has fever, cough and breathing difficulty, he/she has to seek medical care as soon as possible and share previous travel history with the health care provider
● When visiting markets in areas currently experiencing cases of Novel Coronavirus, one has to avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals
● The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.