Health experts urge masses to strictly observe precautions regarding coronavirus

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By Taj Nabi Khan

ISLAMABAD, Mar 5 (APP):The novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19), currently a buzzword in media and public circles worldwide including Pakistan, was initially an endemic viral disease; recently turned a cross-border pandemic causing panic across the globe. 

After detection of the coronaviruses in the neighboring countries, the government has taken several steps to contain the spread of virus such as temporary closing of borders and flights from time to time with the affected countries after informing them regarding the decision.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Dr Zafar  Mirza said , “Please do not panic; not everyone needs a mask. There has lately been a lot of concern about shortage of masks, which has arisen because people have needlessly started buying and even hoarding masks out of panic, thereby creating an artificial demand.”

Suggesting early and “aggressive” measures, the WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said , “We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.” He, however, said that the countries had the capability to stop transmission and save lives.

The WHO Director-General said that the containment of the novel coronavirus is “feasible” and is a “top priority,” as more than 3,000 people globally have died from the outbreak and nearly 90,000 have been infected. More than 8,700 cases reported by 61 countries outside China, 81 percent are in just four countries.

The WHO representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Mahipala has also expressed his confidence in Pakistan’s response to coronavirus cases for following the standardized clinical protocol during treatment of coronavirus patients. He said, “I am impressed by the swift and diligent way the government has handled the crisis so far, and WHO is committed to support them every step of the way.” 

Talking to APP, health experts said that coronavirus affect the immune system of the body leading to pneumonia and other health complications. 

The health  experts opined that since it has not become epidemic in Pakistan, therefore, neither wearing of masks is needed nor avoiding meeting with others except perhaps those who had a history of recent visit to China, Iran or coronavirus positive symptoms.

“However, it is a must to wash hands and keep the surroundings clean for avoiding a number of other diseases including the coronavirus”, they added.  

They have, however, said that coronavirus could not survive in extreme temperatures. “Therefore, the virus would be automatically contained either till last week of March or first week of April due to rise in temperature in Pakistan.”    

Moreover, though there is no treatment of coronavirus as no antibiotic can work on the virus. But medical care can treat most symptoms of the virus. After diagnosis, the infected person is suggested to stay away from public places such as schools, shopping centers, and childcare etc,they added. 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza till filing of the feature has so far confirmed Pakistan’s fifth case of coronavirus.   

In his tweet early on Tuesday morning, Mirza said the case was confirmed in the federal areas. He said, “Patient is stable and is being managed well. I request the media to respect the privacy of the patient and the family.”It is pertinent to mention here that coronavirus is actually a respiratory illness caused by the virus.

The symptoms of the virus range from common flu-like diseases such as coughing, sore throat, fatigue, fever to more serious ones like pneumonia, breathing difficulties, acute respiratory syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).   

The virus is most likely to spread through close contact with infectious person: contact with droplets of infected person’s cough or sneeze, touching surface that has cough or sneeze droplets and then touching mouth or face with infected hand. 

The global spread of virus during the last few weeks has caused the stock markets to sink to the lowest level owing to the fears that it could wreak havoc on the world economy. The WHO has named the illness COVID-19 referring to its origin.

The virus was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in Hubei Province of China. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza till filing of the feature has so far confirmed Pakistan’s fifth case of coronavirus.  

In his tweet early on Tuesday morning, Mirza said the case was confirmed in the federal areas. He said, “Patient is stable and is being managed well. I request the media to respect the privacy of the patient and the family.”

Earlier, speaking at a joint press conference, Dr Zafar said that the patients are being handled according to clinical protocols.

The high-level meeting of National Action Plan for COVID-19 held last Saturday has decided to strictly ensure and reinforce the surveillance on Ports of Entry for identification of infected persons, he added.  

The spread of virus could be contained in Pakistan with coordinated efforts of the authorities concerned and to sensitize public on precautionary measures in light of the formulated National Action Plan for the COVID-19.