How to prepare for a possible coronavirus pandemic - advice from virologists

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How to prepare for a possible coronavirus pandemic - advice from virologists
How to prepare for a possible coronavirus pandemic - advice from virologists

If for some reason you missed the latest news about the coronavirus, then get ready: it is possible that the world is on the verge of a pandemic. After Brazil reported the first confirmed case, it became clear that the coronavirus had spread to all continents except Antarctica. Thus, the South Korean authorities reported more than 1,100 cases, and in Italy at least a hundred people fell ill in one day. In total, 80,970 cases have been recorded in the world - according to the latest report of the World Health Organization (WHO). Since the beginning of the outbreak of CoVID-2019, 2,769 people have died, 29,998 have recovered. We will tell you why a possible pandemic is not a reason for panic and what to do to prepare for it.

Has the coronavirus epidemic already escalated into a pandemic?

The short answer is no. On February 24, while discussing the situation with the new coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

The decision whether to use the word "pandemic" is based on current assessments of the geographic spread of the virus, the severity of the disease, and the impact it has on the entire society.

When asked by journalists about whether a coronavirus pandemic began in the world, the head of WHO replied that the virus undoubtedly has pandemic potential, but according to experts, the epidemic has not yet developed into a pandemic. According to Newsweek, according to David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, terms such as pandemic are distracting. Hayman argues that the first step is to understand the current situation with CoVID-2019 in every country in the world. It should be noted that it is WHO experts who determine when an outbreak should be called a pandemic. Experts come to this conclusion based on information gathered from a variety of sources.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Recall that the outbreak of coronavirus began at the end of last year in the Chinese province of Hubei. Now researchers around the world are working on a vaccine against the coronavirus, and are also looking for “patient zero” - the person who got infected first. Read more about this in our special material.

How to prepare for a possible pandemic?

Virologist Ian McKay, professor at the University of Queensland, Australia, believes the word pandemic could draw attention to an event that some still manage to ignore. According to the researcher, it is necessary to face the truth and plan your actions right now. Imagine how much panic and fear would arise around the world if a pandemic took people by surprise. In his article, the virologist shared concerns that the virus could soon be classified as pandemic, as it has already spread in South Korea, Iran and Italy.

In some countries, according to McKay, efforts to contain CoVID-2019 may fail and at some point the world will find itself in the main phase of a pandemic. At the same time, the professor emphasizes that a pandemic does not necessarily indicate the severity of the disease. Rather, the word denotes a pathogen that has spread widely in two or more countries other than the first to report it. What's more, McKay proposes a number of measures that can help us reduce the risk of infection and reduce the likelihood of running out of essential food and other essential commodities.

Newsweek map showing countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Information is current as of February 24, 2020

The virologist's roster includes purchasing additional prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs for fever and pain; personal hygiene products; toilet paper and napkins; vitamins "in case food shortages limit the variety in your diet." McKay also advises purchasing soap, alcohol-based hand sprays and wipes, and household cleaning products in advance. As for food, the virologist suggests buying cereals, beans, lentils and pasta; canned food such as fish, vegetables and fruits; oil and spices; dried fruits and nuts; powdered milk; pet supplies, as well as soft drinks, candy, and chocolates. The professor also encourages people to take into account the needs of elderly relatives.

In case access to fresh food becomes difficult due to a pandemic, McKay provided another list. Foods such as bread, meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, fruits and vegetables are the last thing to buy if there is a suspicion that food supplies may slow down or stop for a while. In general, the virologist urges not to panic, but still closely monitor the situation.

Is the coronavirus so dangerous?

At the moment, WHO experts estimate the mortality rate from coronavirus at 2%. This means that for the first 100,000 confirmed cases, there are about 2,000 deaths. In general, various studies estimate mortality from CoVID-2019 from 0.5% to 4% (in Wuhan and 0.7% outside). These figures are comparable to the usual seasonal outbreaks of influenza and SARS. The risk group, as in cases with other diseases, includes children, the elderly, pregnant women, as well as people with reduced immunity and chronic diseases.

This is how street disinfection works in China.

Moreover, on February 26, WHO reported that experts had made a number of conclusions about the tolerance of the virus, the severity of the disease and its effect on the body. Experts found that the coronavirus epidemic peaked between January 23 and February 2 and has been steadily declining since then. It was also found that there were no significant changes in the DNA of the virus. This suggests that CoVID-2019 is no longer mutating, which means that the lethality from it will definitely not increase.

Well, we humbly recall that regular hand washing, as well as adherence to the rules of personal hygiene are the best protection against any infection. Be healthy!

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