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An antidote to the crisis

  • Published at 11:00 pm February 24th, 2020
Coronavirus
Photo: BIGSTOCK

To combat coronavirus, awareness is key

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and people. The symptoms of coronavirus are signs of infection which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, it can also lead to pneumonia, multiple organ failure, and even death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency over the new coronavirus that has killed at least 1,868 people following an outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. A total of 72,436 cases of infection have been reported across China, most of them in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.

According to the analysis of WHO, 82% of cases appear to be mild, 15% progress to severe, and 3% are critical. Most of the fatal cases were in older people and people with underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The virus has spread to many countries in the Asia Pacific region as well as in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Africa. The majority of cases outside China are among people who recently travelled to the country, however instances of human-to-human transmission have been recorded in several countries.

It is yet unknown how dangerous and contagious the coronavirus is.

A crucial difference is that unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for the new coronavirus, which means it is more difficult for vulnerable members of the population -- elderly people or those with existing respiratory or immune problems -- to protect themselves.

One has to inhale the virus from an affected person and after the incubation period of 10-14 days and if so, he/she may suffer from running nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, mild fever, headache, and body ache.

If you are infected, immediately report to the nearest hospital; if it is not possible, stay home, take paracetamol tablets to control fever, keep your body well hydrated, and within the earliest possible time, seek medical help.

The “anti-virus” to this virus is to stay indoors, to wear masks while you travel outside, not to panic, and washing hands using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Raw meat, milk, or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

One can get affected by the coronavirus by the infected person’s cough, sneeze, touching the affected person, handshake with patients, and from infected animals. One sensible step is to get the flu vaccine, which will reduce the burden on health services if the outbreak turns into a wider epidemic.

In order to prevent unnecessary fear about the deadly coronavirus, awareness is the key. Social media has a great role and is the best platform to make people alert and raise awareness. Frequent advisories should be broadcasted on television, radio, and newspapers.

All entry ports of the country should be well-equipped to screen the travellers arriving from abroad. There should be an isolation ward in every hospital to isolate the affected patient. A team of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals in every hospital should be ready round the clock to deal with the emergency if it occurs. 

Maisha Maliha is working as a Legal Executive, BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED).