The coronavirus has now reached Europe. The first three cases have been confirmed in France, two hospitalised in Paris and the third in a Bordeaux hospital. Two of the patients are related.
Virologist Christopher Barbara, who specialises in infectious diseases, explained it had been expected that this virus reaches Europe. He said that cases have already been identified shows that measures taken are proving effective.
He said the same guidelines are being used and the fact that cases have been detected shows they are working and this gives assurance the protocol being used is working.
Dr Barbara said in Malta no case of coronavirus has been detected and none suspected. However, that does not mean that all necessary precautions are not being taken and laboratories are prepared in case the virus surfaces in Malta.
He said that contact has also been made overseas in case a further laboratory is needed and this may be used but there is also the protocol of isolation and quarantine in hospital if this becomes necessary. He said it is important that a person who suspects of having the symptoms should immediately contact the Public Health Department and not go to a health centre or a hospital because the virus is highly infectious and can easily be spread.
Dr Barbara remarked the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to that of influenza and therefore the same measures should be taken for this not to spread.
He said this means ensuring public hygene, washing hands, covering the mouth and nostrils when coughing and sneezing and disposing of tissues in the proper recaptacles.
The Health Authorities are notifying that those that have to travel should avoid market and places where there are alive or dead animals, avoid contact with sick persons, particularly those with respiratory problems, frequent washing of hands, ensure that raw foodstuffs are properly washed and to avoid contact with animals and their faeces. Persons experiencing respiratory problems within two weeks of having visited the city of Wuhan should speak to their doctor and contact the Section for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases.
The number of persons who have died in China because of coronavirus is now 41, including a doctor who was caring for patients in a Wuhan hospital, the city in which the disease started. Almost 1,400 persons have now been diagnosed as sufferers and it is being reported a second emergency hospital is under construction and is scheduled to be completed in less than one month and will provide 1,000 beds.
The virus has also spread to Australia where where the first four cases have been confirmed, as well as the United States. The World Health Organisation has not as yet classified the outbreak of the virus as an international emergency because of the low number of cases outside China, so far.