With the death toll in the coronavirus outbreak crossing 100, health authorities in Myanmar have beefed up surveillance at international airports and border checkpoints, especially those along the border with China.
At present, more than 4,500 cases have been reported from the mainland, where there has been an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, which can spread from person to person.
As the pneumonia-causing virus has triggered a health scare in China, it would be sensible to be concerned. But, we must take care not to overreact to the developing situation.
With Myanmar on high alert and surveillance mode, people seem to be reaching a point where public indifference has tipped into worry, and even, fear.
Sales of face masks have soared, with shortage reported from some border towns.
While we should remain on the alert for coronavirus, there is no reason to be afraid. Each suspected case is not testing positive for the virus.
On 26 January, a Chinese traveler was quarantined at the Nyaungshwe Hospital and treated for diarrhea and fever. Her condition improved the next day. She showed no signs of pneumonia. But, as she was visiting from China and hospitalized during the surveillance period for coronavirus, she was quarantined.
In this scenario, we must rely on information provided on official websites and organizations. Information from social media needs to be considered in light of data provided on official websites, such as those of international health organizations and health organizations from China.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet declared the Novel Coronavirus-2019 a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), it has declared it to be ‘high’ risk.
The World Health Organization is recommending some basic measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (The last two are specifically focused on people in and around Ground Zero for the virus – Wuhan, China.)
Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, or warm water and soap.
Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.
Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers.
Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas.
Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk, or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.
As the virus’ footprint spreads, advisories on limiting travel will likely be issued. As anyone who flies regularly knows, airplanes are a hotbed of germs.
But, for now, we just need to keep the basics in mind.