Coronavirus scares; Is it enough not to panic?

The World Health Organisation (WHO), Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Friday, said the risk of spread and impact of the coronavirus is now ‘very high’ at a global level. 

He warned that, the outbreak was getting bigger after the disease surfaced in  Nigeria, the first case in sub-Saharan Africa, reiterating that the virus could reach “most, if not, all countries”. 

The Director General therefore called on all nations to prepare themselves for potential pandemic, as nations aside from China now account for three-quarters of new infections.

“This virus has pandemic potential,” he revealed in Geneva. About 12 countries reported their first virus cases in past 24 hours.

According to WHO as of Friday, outside China, the virus had spread to a further 46 countries, where about 3,700 cases and 57 deaths have been reported so far.

In China – the epicentre of the deadly disease – the National Health Commission on Friday, reported at least 44 new coronavirus deaths, bringing to 2,800 the number of fatalities nationwide and more than 83,000 infections worldwide.

Although the 329 cases reported in China on Friday made it the lowest there in more than a month, hopes that the coronavirus would be contained in that country have been dashed as the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria, sending shivers down the spine of  West African countries.

This is because a large number of citizens are of the view that their countries are not prepared for such outbreaks.

The WHO in a report reiterate the point that much of the global community is not yet ready to implement the types of measures that have contained the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak in China.

“These are the only measures that are currently proven to interrupt or minimise transmission chains in humans.

“Fundamental to these measures is extremely proactive surveillance to immediately detect cases, very rapid diagnosis and immediate case isolation, rigorous tracking and quarantine of close contacts, and an exceptionally high degree of population understanding and acceptance of these measures,” the report said.

Fortunately, in Ghana, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has given an assurance that there is no cause for alarm and asked the public not to panic.

It assured that Ghana’s surveillance and response mechanisms are ready to pick and deal with any case.

But the question is that; are these all we need to ward of the disease?

Absolutely not. This is because all these preparations and assurances would come to nought if residents do not understand the precautionary measures put in place.

We therefore call on the GHS to collaborate with National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Information Service Department to increase public education on the disease and what is required of the citizenry.

Like in the days of the Ebola scare, faith –based organisations and civil society must lend their support in spreading precautionary measures so that an outbreak would be prevented.

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