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Fighting China Virus

State must maintain vigilance at all levels to contain Coronavirus

Alarmed by the rising number of people afflicted by novel Coronavirus (nCoV) in mainland China and fearing its spread in Goa, the state government has set up a 30-bedded quarantine ward in the Goa Medical College Hospital and an 8-bedded facility at the sub-district hospital at Chicalim. The state has also constituted a taskforce to deal with any Coronavirus cases and offer treatment to those found to be carrying the disease. To ensure prompt action the state government has shared with the hospitals in both the districts the advisory and guidelines issued by the Union health ministry on the clinical management of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) in suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Though not a single confirmed case of Coronavirus or SARI has been reported in Goa so far, people are wary after a tourist, who had returned from China last week and showed signs of affliction of the disease, was quarantined in the GMC. His clinical status would be known by the hospital after receiving the reports on examination of his blood samples by the National Institute of Virology.

There is no need for people to panic. There is the need to take precautionary measures to avoid contracting Coronavirus. People should report any suspected case to the health authorities, especially if they come across anyone showing clinical signs and symptoms of the disease, mainly fever and difficulty in breathing. The people must observe good personal hygiene by frequently washing hands with soap. As precautions can save people from contracting the disease, it would be in their own interest to cover mouth so as to avoid close contacts with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as fever, cough and running nose. As Coronavirus is believed to be transmitted from animals to humans, people should be advised to avoid close contacts with pets and other animals. People should also refrain from consumption of raw or undercooked meat and avoid visits to farms, live animal markets or slaughter houses.

The virus, detected earlier this month in the Wuhan city of China, was not identified before and poses a challenge to the professionals engaged in medical research and treatment. The virus has claimed over 130 lives so far and thousands of others have been affected. Given the large spread of its geography, China has ordered partial or full lockdowns in several cities affecting movement of 60 million people. As Chinese health authorities have said that since people can spread the virus before symptoms show there is need for taking all the precautions to contain SARI. Reports have emerged that Coronavirus, which has also been described as Wuhan Coronavirus, has spread across several Asian countries and other parts of the world. With the threat of spread of disease increasing, and there being no authentic treatment available for it, the state health and hospital authorities should take steps to treat patients on symptomatic basis to contain the spread of the disease. All the health centres across the state should be equipped with medicines to deal with cases of influenza, whether those having symptoms test positive for Coronavirus or not.

The state taskforce headed by health secretary has its task cut out for it. While treating people with suspected signs of SARI, healthcare workers need to take precaution not to contract the disease themselves and spread it to others. As Goans travel to China for various purposes including business, there is possibility of them having contracted the disease. The taskforce needs to find out how many Goans travelled to China in the recent months and maintain medical vigilance on them. In case anyone among the travellers to China shows remote symptoms of the disease he or she would have to be isolated and treated as per the medical protocol suggested by the Union health ministry. The health authorities cannot lower safeguards against the spread of the virus. There should be a strong awareness campaign by the government. Managements of hotels and casinos must inform the health officials of any person visiting their establishments showing signs of the virus. The state government should seek the help of the central government to install a thermal scanner at the Dabolim airport to scan visitors as a precautionary measure.

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