Coronavirus poses a global challenge - GulfToday

Coronavirus poses a global challenge


Passengers wearing masks are seen at Hongqiao International Airport in shanghai, China. Reuters

Global concerns over China’s new flu-like virus are justified as the previously unknown and contagious coronavirus strain has already claimed a few lives and hundreds of other cases are under observation or treatment.

Outside mainland China, cases have even been detected in varied places such as the United States, Thailand, Japan, Macau and South Korea.

Hong Kong had to quarantine a 39-year-old man after the city’s first preliminary positive result in a test for the coronavirus. The tourist from Wuhan reached Hong Kong via high-speed rail from Shenzhen and was detected having fever at the border.

Adding to the worry is the fact that the virus is spreading just as hundreds of millions of people are travelling in packed trains, planes and buses across China to gather with friends and family for the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts on Friday.

China’s central city of Wuhan, which has emerged as the epicentre of the new virus outbreak, is now considered the main battlefield venue against the disease.

Wuhan’s mayor has aptly urged residents not to leave the city and visitors to avoid it so that the possibility of transmission can be reduced.

Secrecy is not a good option is such situations, and Beijing is moving in the right direction by issuing regular updates in an attempt to head off panic. This grossly contrasts with its secrecy over the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people.

It is also good that China has shared the genome sequencing of this novel coronavirus, which has been named “2019-nCoV,” with the international scientific community.

On another front, worry persists, as there is no vaccine for the new virus, which China says is mutating. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named because of crown-like spikes on their surfaces.

The UAE, on its part, deserves praise for taking all timely precautions to deal with the situation and reassuring residents that the outbreak does not pose any risk to the UAE’s public health at present.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, has affirmed that it is closely following up on the latest updates with regard to the coronavirus.

The ministry, in cooperation with its partners, follows a very effective epidemiological monitoring mechanism, in accordance with the highest international practices, to ensure sustainable efficiency and protect society against any health pandemics.

The UAE is among the world’s best countries in epidemiological surveillance and appropriate response to health emergencies as per the World Health Organisation standards.

As pointed out by Dr Hussein Abdel-Rahman Al-Rand, Assistant Under-Secretary of Health Centres and Clinics Sector, the Ministry of Health has taken all precautionary measures in cooperation with its strategic partners, and is ready to deal with any travel related coronavirus cases to be detected in the country.

He has also stated that the ministry has made sure all ports are on standby to handle coronavirus cases, highlighting the necessity of taking standard procedures when detecting any case, including informing health authorities, following necessary procedures and transporting patients to specific hospitals.

Though some experts say the latest virus may not be as deadly as other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, laxity cannot be an option for the world community.

The need to step up monitoring and disinfection efforts should never be underestimated, considering that the virus is spreading across the globe.

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