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Coronavirus causes much consternation around the world

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By Ashok Ramsarup :: The new strains of the deadly coronavirus outbreak are causing consternation to many first world and developing countries.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) is considering global declaration following the number of deaths of the disease to hit China, the second leading economy in the world as global leaders weigh in on the growing evidence of human-to-human transmission.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has claimed that the evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China was “deeply concerning and disturbing”.  DrGhebreyesus has strongly advocated on WHO to declare a global health emergency today.

Latest details have shown that at least at least 170 people have died and more than 7,700 cases are confirmed to have been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus in mainland China, as the infection spreads across Asia and the rest of the world.

Dr Trupti Gilada-Baheti

Dr Trupti Gilada-Baheti

The South African government is ready to tackle the coronavirus, but is urging residents to alert health officials of any suspected patients. It’s reported that health screening check points have been beefed up while the National Institute for Communicable Diseases emergency operation centres are on standby.

Heading the team at the operations centre is Ann Matthews, who indicated the operation will kick in immediately once a suspected case is established. Matthews said the relevant procedures would follow with emergency at any of the borders.

Meanwhile scores of foreign nationals have been evacuated from Wuhan. Japan, United States, and the European Union were also repatriating their citizens. Several airlines, including British Airways, suspended all flights to and from China.

Dr Trupti Gilada-Baheti, Infectious Diseases Physician at the Unison Medicare and Research Centre in Mumbai, says the coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. This group of viruses has caused outbreaks such Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the past. Coronaviruses are zoonotic- they are transmitted between animals and people. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain that was first identified as the cause of a recent pneumonia outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan at end of 2019.

Dr Gilada-Baheti says from the beginning of the New Year,  there was no confirmed case reported in India – the world’s largest democracy.  However the outbreak included thousands of cases in China and sporadic cases have been identified in other 18 countries among travellers from China.

She has emphasized that  the possibility of 2019-nCoV should be considered only in patients those with fever and or lower respiratory tract symptoms who reside in or have recently travelled to China or who have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of novel coronavirus. Without such history, this is likely to be a more ‘regular’ viral infection.

The incubation period (the period from first exposure to first symptom/sign of illness) of the virus ranges from two to 10 days. Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and other breathing difficulties. Most of the reported infections are not severe. However, approximately 20% percent of confirmed patients have had serious or life-threatening illness, including respiratory failure, septic shock, or other organ failure requiring intensive care, Dr Gilada-Baheta added.

Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa 🇿🇦

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