REPORTERS CLUB EVENT: Several cases of pneumonia affected individuals of Wuhan City, in the province of Hubei in China towards the end of December. It was then that after repeated tests a new strain called the Coronavirus a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “Coronavirus (CoV) are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans”.
“Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, and cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death”.
The virus that started widespread in China has made its way in Nepal, and experts on this matter have warned us to take precautions. Although it is not as threatening and dangerous it is necessary to get checked, if any individual shows any signs of its symptoms.
Speaking at the Reporters Club yesterday along with the President of Reporters Club and senior journalist Rishi Dhamala were experts from the medical field including the Spokesperson from the Ministry of Health and Population Dr. Mahendra Shrestha who said that “the virus can be transmitted but there is no reason to worry just be cautious and take protective measures”.
Spokesperson Dr. Shrestha also said that “although detailed information has not been received they are prepared to tackle any adversities. It is a subject of further study and research, there are lots of questions, but the situation is not as frightening”.
“Only 3-4% of the people affected with the CoV have lost their lives, but since that is our neighboring country we cannot remain silent on the issue,” he said.
One Nepali citizen who returned from Wuhan province was diagnosed with the disease, but spokesperson Dr. Shrestha assured that there was nothing to worry about. “The Health Ministry is extremely cautious, right now we have one patient, but he is by far doing well and recovering. We are now monitoring the health officials and people who were involved in the treatment, does not look like it has spread” he said.
“Since we share a border with China we have to be careful and take appropriate safety measures, we have to be cautious with our borders and the airport and bring a plan for its security. Similarly, people have to be careful. This virus can spread. We have seen many such diseases in the past. With changing climate various other tropical infections have been prevalent in Nepal” said Shrestha.
Speaking at the press interaction program the Director of Sukhraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH) Dr. Basudev Pandey said that “cleanliness is crucial, and if our surroundings and our home is thoroughly cleaned there are fewer chances of contracting the virus is minimal. CoV was prevalent but this virus is a new strain that has been discovered”.
“STIDH is working toward containing the disease and its spread. Back in 2003, when SARS was prevalent it was our hospital that played a role in containing it. CoV is similar to SARS, and we are prepared to take necessary measures to contain the spread of the disease” he said.
Dr. Pandey also said that “since this virus began in China, and the infected person had returned from the country it is unlikely that the virus has a presence in our country. The patient is home and recovering. Our hospital is ready to tackle any challenges, we are creating space for more beds, and we are thoroughly investigating the issue”.
Further on CoV Dr. Pandey informed that “since the virus is contagious and can spread, even a sneeze from a meter away can infect people. Pay attention to the cleanliness of your surroundings, there have been over 1000 infections in China with several deaths, but we do not have to worry as such”.
Dr. Pandey also said that “the aged and children were more vulnerable and prone to other infections as well. If there are constant cough and cold, please come to the STIDH and get yourself checked free of cost”.
Expert in the field of infectious diseases Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun speaking at the same program said that “Nepal need not worry about the rapid spread of the disease unlike China”.
“The source of the virus is eating uncooked meat, so if we cook our meat well, there will be fewer chances of contracting the disease. CoV itself is not a disease, it is just a virus” he clarified.
“CoV is a strain of an existing virus. Back in 2003, we had SARS and in 2012 we had MERS. Coronavirus was discovered at the end of 2019, its name is Novel Coronavirus, and due to its recent discovery not much information is available, but if we look at it comparatively in Nepal, the situation is not as dangerous here, and there is nothing to worry about”.