Dr. Tasaduk Hussain Itoo

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK: A GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

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Coronavirus is a potentially life-threatening family of viruses that cause conditions like the common cold, MERS, SARS, and other respiratory conditions, including new strains of the virus.

The World Health Organization has declared the new coronavirus, nCov-2019 outbreak an international public health emergency by 30th January 2020, acknowledging with the fact that the disease now represents a risk beyond China, where it emerged last month. It is only the sixth time the WHO has declared a global health emergency. The declaration, officially called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern – serves notice to all United Nations member states calling the situation as serious. The decision came as cases have begun to appear among the people who had not even travelled to China during the outbreak.

According to the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of World Health Organization , thirty-eight more deaths in China from the coronavirus were announced on Thursday, bringing the toll to 170. Since the death toll has crossed 300. Another 1,844 new cases were recorded for a total of 7,818 worldwide. The vast majority of the cases were inside China; 82 cases were confirmed in 18 other countries. Tibet reported its first confirmed case. This means that all of China’s provinces and territories have now been touched by the outbreak. Thailand has reported 14 cases of infection; Japan has 11; Hong Kong and Singapore have 10; Taiwan has eight; Australia, Malaysia and Macau each have seven; France and the United States have six; South Korea, Germany and the United Arab Emirates each have 4; Canada has three; Vietnam has two; and India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Finland each have one. Confirming India’s first case, the government said the patient, in the southern state of Kerala, was a student at Wuhan University. Cases recorded in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan and France involved patients who had not been to China. There have been no reported deaths outside China.

People with weakened immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, are especially vulnerable to potentially deadly new coronavirus infection. Babies and elderly people are also at risk of developing complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. If you or someone you care for are at risk, take special care to avoid exposure to infected people or animals. While coronavirus can be serious, taking preventative measures can help you protect your health in public, at home, and while caring for a sick person.

▪︎Wash your hands with soap and water to minimize your infection risk. The best way to prevent coronavirus is to wash your hands as often as possible. Wet your hands with warm water, then apply a mild soap. Work the soap into a lather for 20-30 seconds, then rinse your hands clean under warm running water. And always wash your hands before you eat or drink anything. However, it’s also best to wash your hands anytime you’re out in public or after you’re around someone you suspect may be sick.

▪︎Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. You may come into contact with the coronavirus on a surface, like a doorknob or countertop. When this happens, the germs can linger on your hands, so you can easily infect yourself if you touch your face with dirty hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth in case the virus is on your skin. If you need to touch your face, wash your hands first so you’re less likely to infect yourself.

▪︎Stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing. Since coronavirus is a respiratory infection, coughing and sneezing are common symptoms. Additionally, coughing and sneezing both release the virus into the air, so they may increase your risk of infection. Keep your distance from people who appear to have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

▪︎Disinfect high-touch surfaces daily using a product that kills viruses. Unfortunately, coronavirus can linger on surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, and faucets. Use a spray disinfectant or bleach wipes to clean these surfaces daily. Make sure the surface stays wet for about 10 minutes so it effectively kills the virus. This limits the risk of the virus lingering on the surfaces and potentially causing an infection.

▪︎Wear a disposable face mask while in public. Since coronavirus spreads through the air, it’s possible to breathe it in. Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable face mask to limit your risk of contracting the virus. Don’t reuse your masks because that can increase your risk of contracting coronavirus. Always wash your hands after you remove your mask in case you encountered coronavirus. If you take off your mask and then immediately touch your face, you could become ill if the germs are present. If you’re at high risk for respiratory infections or have lung disorders like asthma or COPD, and you’re traveling internationally, wear a disposable mask on the plane to help prevent the spread of infection.

▪︎Cook meat and eggs thoroughly to reduce the risk of infection. Coronaviruses can transmit from animals to humans, so it’s important to cook animal products thoroughly to kill any germs. Follow the instructions for the type of meat or eggs you’re cooking, and check the internal temperature of your food using a food thermometer before you eat. Heat your foods to the following temperatures:

*Chicken and turkey should be 165 °F (74 °C).

*Cook beef to 145 °F (63 °C).

*Heat ground meat to 160 °F (71 °C)

*Eggs need to reach 160 °F (71 °C).

▪︎Limit your contact with live animals to lower the risk of transmission. Don’t risk handling an animal that might be ill. Avoid handling live animals unless you work with animals or are caring for pets. If you must handle an animal other than your pet, touch it as little as possible. Remember! Farm animals and bats are the most likely sources of infection.

▪︎Wash your hands immediately after handling live animals if you must. You don’t want germs from the animals to linger on your skin. Wet your hands and apply a mild soap. Lather the soap on your hands for 30 seconds, then rinse it off with warm water. Dry your hands on a clean, dry towel.

▪︎Healthcare professionals need to wear disposable protective gear while providing care to a sick person. Put on disposable gloves, a face mask, and a paper gown before you care for the sick person. When you leave their room, take off your protective gear and throw it in a plastic trash bag. Don’t reuse your protective clothing because you may accidentally come into contact with the virus. Coronavirus spreads through the air and can linger on your clothing, so protect yourself as best you can.

▪︎Pay attention to travel advisories if you plan to visit other countries. If you’re planning to travel abroad, visit your country’s travel website to find out if any dangerous strains of the coronavirus are active in the area you plan to visit. You can also check the website of the CDC or the World Health organization for information. These websites can offer advice about whether you can travel to other countries.

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