Media outlets have been reporting on the recent coronavirus (CoV) outbreak in various countries around the world. More so, Filipinos were alarmed after rapidly rising cases of the outbreak in various parts of the country were documented and circulated in the social media realm.
With this emerging threat to the health and well-being of the general public, knowledge and vigilance is important; thus, here are the things you need to know about the virus, the issue, and the preventive measures to avoid contracting the disease.
ABOUT THE VIRUS
- The Coronavirus is a group of viruses that affect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of birds and mammals (yes, that includes humans).
- These viruses are usually acquired through direct contact with an infected person. Some coronaviruses are also said to be airborne.
- CoV-contracted diseases may range from a mere common cold to more serious illnesses like pneumonia, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
- The virus that caused the recent outbreak is a new strain called the novel coronavirus or (2019-nCoV).
ABOUT THE ISSUE
- The outbreak was first reported on December 31, 2019, in Wuhan, China. The virus has been rapidly spreading since then.
- Updated data documented 17 deaths and 555 confirmed cases of the CoV infection in China.
- Authorities have put China on temporary lockdown, not only closing its airports and railway stations for departing passengers but also suspending public transport services to avoid further spreading of the virus.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first case of the 2019-nCoV in the United States was in Washington and was announced on January 21, 2020.
- Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Macau were reported to have confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV infection.
- The first documented case in the Philippines was, allegedly, that of a five-year-old Chinese boy who was said to have previously traveled to Wuhan; but because it is still unclear whether this is caused by the CoV outbreak, the Department of Health (DOH) is keeping a close eye on this case.
- Cornelio Cuachon Jr. of the Aklan provincial health office declared a false alarm on the alleged CoV outbreak in Kalibo, Aklan caused by three Chinese citizens, stating in a PhilStar report that “these individuals only stayed overnight in the provincial hospital and were discharged when they no longer manifested any symptoms.”
- Amidst these scares, the Philippine Bureau of the World Health Organization (WHO-Philippines) announced that there are no confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV in the country.
Because CoV can be transmitted through the air and through direct contact with affected individuals, here are some simple preventive measures to keep the virus from spreading
- Always wear a facemask when coming into contact with affected individuals. Healthcare service providers are advised to wear facemask and gloves when assisting and in contact with affected individuals.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- In relation, always (and thoroughly) wash your hands with soap and water. You may also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water are unavailable.
- Cook food thoroughly; and
- Avoid coming into contact with live wild or farm animals.
Given these facts, Filipinos are advised not to panic to prevent fear and misinformation.
Amid this threat and the reports circulating the web, the best thing we can do is to remain calm, vigilant, and wise on absorbing and spreading accurate and verified information regarding the outbreak.
In times like this, knowledge and vigilance are weapons each and every one of us should have.