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Other languages available: 中
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, has sparked fear and anxiety around the world in the last week. In reporting infectious disease of this extent there can be a fundamental misunderstanding of the distinction between the disease and the epidemic process. This has the potential to cause confusion and increase anxiety for us all. Information and education remain the key factors in controlling epidemics of infectious disease. HECL members are spread all around the world, and in this case we are particularly concerned not only because this is now a global health emergency but also because some of you are actually based in China.
Since this is a new disease, there are presently many uncertainties about both the disease and the epidemic. China has introduced large-scale public health measures in order to slow down the rate of progression and the potential size of the epidemic. Other countries have been quick to act against the risk of new infection outbreaks outside China. At the moment data are still crude and evolve on a daily basis, but it seems that the mortality remains relatively low, and less severe than SARS at a similar point in the epidemic. As we understand more about the disease the mortality is likely to fall.
With the current information available, it is suggested that the route of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 is either via respiratory droplets or close personal contact. Like influenza it is spread when an infected person coughs and spread the infected virus. In practice most of the virus from the cough goes onto surfaces or the floor and the greatest risk of infection is to pick the virus up on fingers which then make contact with the nose or eyes.
Consequently, isolating infectious individuals and closing schools where infections tend to spread are efficient public health actions. At an individual level we also have the responsibility to limit our exposure risk in order not to contract the illness. Hand washing remains the single most important preventive measure, but wearing masks and reducing public mixing (work and travel) are also complementary appropriate measures.
Immunization reduces also the risk of any epidemic taking hold. Immunity is influenced by many factors including age and the presence of other illness. A balanced lifestyle which we at Puerfons regularly promote such as healthy diet, exercise, adequate rest and avoiding stress also increase our immunity.
Data over the next few weeks will make epidemic projections more reliable. We would encourage you to critically analyse all medical information you may encounter and ask if it is rational and logical. Global panic at that stage is unwarranted. For the ones of you living in a risk zone, the preventive measures mentioned here above like increased hand washing, not touching your face and limited crowd exposure are very good precautions to avoid getting sick.
We will continue to follow the situation very closely in the next weeks. In the time being please take good care of your health.
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