Media consumers, social media users urged not to create panic on coronavirus
KARACHI: In a statement released on Monday in the backdrop of growing public concern over novel coronavirus (NCV) which has claimed lives of 361 people in China alone, the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan has urged media consumers and social media users not to create panic and confusion, respect the privacy of any infected individuals and only share information from reliable sources.
Pakistanis stranded in China started arriving in Islamabad on Monday as the government resumed flight operations to the virus-hit country while seven suspected cases of the NCV kept in the isolation wards of hospitals in Karachi, Multan and other cities have tested negative.
“With the availability of diagnostic tests at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, suspected coronavirus cases can now be confirmed. The society stresses that this should not be considered a sign of spreading epidemic, but a depiction of cases which are already here and need monitoring to prevent complications,” the society stated.
According to its experts, the number of influenza cases is currently high and it’s important to differentiate the NCV from influenza because the management is different.
The possibility of coronavirus infection must be considered in patients presenting with fever, cough, shortness of breath and those who have either travelled to China in the last 14 days or have had contact with any infected patient/s within the past 14 days.
“Currently, there is no vaccination available. Treatment is mainly supportive. Some antivirals, which may be effective in management, are available in Pakistan. Good strategies are crucial in preventing infection propagation through communities,” the society said.
To minimise chances of infection, it strongly recommended frequent hand washing (before eating or cooking, after using the restroom and when soiled); practicing good cough etiquette (cough on your sleeve or use a tissue paper or cloth to cover your mouth); disposing used tissue papers in bins; refraining from spitting in surroundings and using waste bins; avoid close contact with people with respiratory illnesses; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
“Face masks may be worn for limited protection. The mask is only effective if you refrain from touching your nose and mouth,” it said.
It is important to recall here that a number of patients were diagnosed with pneumonia in December last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan who were later diagnosed with the NCV.
Since then thousands of patient have been diagnosed with the virus not only in China, but also in other countries. Infections reported outside China have mostly been diagnosed among travellers returning from Wuhan.
The spectrum of infection ranges from asymptomatic infection to fever, mild respiratory illness, severe pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Major mode of transmission is human-to-human contact.
“One infected patient can transmit infection to two close contacts on average. Transmission can be minimised by isolation of patients and careful infection control. There is no risk of acquiring infection from consuming eggs, poultry or any other kind of properly cooked meat or seafood,” the society consisting of infectious diseases physicians, clinical microbiologists and nurses trained in infection control practices stated.