Three persons died in China and more than 200 others became sick after they were infected by a new virus, called novel coronavirus.
Speaking to TVM, Public Health Superintendent Professor Charmaine Gauci said that while there is no cause for alarm in Malta, monitoring of the situation is ongoing and authorities are following the advice by the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for the Control and Prevention of Disease.
The virus was initially identified in Wuhan City in the Hubei province in China and has now spread to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen with reports also indicating that the virus appeared in Japan, Thailand and South Korea. The novel coronavirus causes symptoms of common cold and leads to breathing complications and pneumonia. It is understood that the virus has widely spread as millions of Chinese are traveling for the Chinese New Year holidays.
Prof. Charmaine Gauci said that the virus resembles the common cold and there is no vaccination yet to combat it.
“This is a particular virus, infact they called it novel coronavirus, because it attacks people by affecting them severely than the normal coronavirus which is like a common cold”.
Asked if the virus is transmitted from a person to another, Prof Gauci said: “The World Health Organisation is saying that those infected by the novel coronavirus were persons who visited these markets in China, and added that there is very limited evidence which shows it is easily transmitted from a person to another, such as other viruses”.
Prof. Gauci added that persons who visit the Hubei province in China should avoid open markets, contact with animals and with people who have respiratory disease, and if on their return they have symptoms of breathing, sickness or cough, they should talk to a doctor and phone the public health superintendency for the required tests.
“There is no cause for alarm even for the fact that Malta has no direct flights to the area and that even in Europe no cases were reported. In fact, the World Health Organisation said that the risk is that the virus will spread in countries close to this province”.
Prof. Gauci added that the health authorities are in direct and continuous contact with doctors and professionals for any eventuality. She said that the authorities are also in contact with WHO and the ECDC European Centre.