Brac University hosts seminar to clear common Coronavirus myths
The coronavirus outbreak has been trending on social media for a while now. With all the memes and news updates, it has become something of a global bogeyman, something that concerns health professionals.
BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health and BRAC University organized a seminar – Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – on Wednesday, in an attempt to set the record straight.
Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), and Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer at IEDCR, spoke at the event.
Being panicked is not the solution
The first thing that scares a layman is the prevalence of images and videos of the lockdown in Wuhan, China, in an attempt to control the spread of the disease which reportedly originated there. Dhaka’s own brush with contagious diseases such as dengue and chikungunya has shown that an outbreak of the COVID-19 here would have terrible consequences. The experts agree on this front.
“The probability of epidemic becomes high if a disease transfers from human to human. COVID-19 is contagious,” said Dr Alamgir.
However, both speakers stressed there is no reason to be frightened since no novel coronavirus cases have been detected yet in Bangladesh.
“People need to free themselves from fear and take necessary measures,” said Dr Flora.
The elderly and sick are most at risk. The percentage of death is 14.8 among people over age 80, whereas in children it is near zero. Talking about the fatality rate senior scientist Dr Alamgir said: “When a patient has other diseases, these may lead them to a critical situation. Usually 80% of cases can be taken care of at home, 20% need hospitalization, while 3% require intensive care.”
What to do as a precaution?
Frequently washing hands with an alcohol based hand wash or soap, and covering mouth and nose with tissue or handkerchief when sneezing or coughing, are the two major measures which should be maintained by people.
“People should be avoiding touching their mouth or eyes with dirty hands. If there is no tissue at hand while coughing or sneezing, cover the nasal area with the elbow,” advised Dr Flora.
Dr Alamgir advised to not touch any kind of railing at airports, to wear masks in any public gathering, for instance shopping malls, and to sanitize hands frequently.
Use of Mask
Due to a huge demand after the outbreak of coronavirus, the price of masks has increased, and supplies frequently run dry.
Dr Alamgir said, using respirator masks to avoid coronavirus is pointless in Bangladesh as the virus is yet to reach the country.
Dr Alamgir, chief of the coronavirus control room of IEDCR, said: “There are certain rules for using masks, and surgical masks are more than enough. Also, masks such as n95 are not for general use but usually used by doctors, nurses, pathologists etc.”
Is our airport well equipped?
A team is working at the airport, checking every passenger passing through arrivals by thermal scanners. “If any irregularities are seen the team works to figure out the epidemiological linkage. Any infected person will be taken under surveillance right away” said Dr Alamgir.
Dr Flora mentioned that IEDCR is providing training all through the year to combat communicable diseases and has also already trained ICU doctors and nurses of different hospitals on the coronavirus.
Stop believing in rumours
Both speakers urged the public to look for facts that come from authentic sources such as WHO and IEDCR.
“During such times, plenty of information comes to people through different media. People get confused about what to believe,” said Dr Alamgir, urging people not to accept as true, any kind of rumour about the deadly virus.
“Delivering the correct information is the challenge at this moment. We are trying to inform at least one person from a family who would be the opinion catalyst and who else is a better option than students?” said Dr Flora.
To solve any type of confusion about the virus and make people aware, the monitoring body of IEDCR has been running four 24hr hotlines.
Professor Kaosar Afsana, BRAC JPGSPH, and Professor Vincent Chang, Vice Chancellor of BRAC University, were also present at the seminar.