On 26th February, Pakistan confirmed its first two positive cases for Corona Virus. The news has since then created a sense of panic and confusion, leading to numerous unanswered questions. The first case detected was for a 22 year old student from Karachi who had entered the country after recently visiting Iran. The patient, his family members as well as all the passengers that he travelled with have been kept under strict supervision in quarantine in a private hospital in Karachi.
The government and authorities have assured that international clinical standards and protocols are being followed to prevent the risk of transmission. Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, first broke the news on Twitter and used the platform to calm the situation by conveying the stability of the detected patients. “No need to panic, things are under control”, he further added.
The second case identified, who had also travelled to Iran a month ago, is a resident hailing from the federal areas. The patient is admitted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad and is being treated in an isolation ward. As a result, the government has suspended the flights to Iran and closed its border after Iran reported 47 confirmed cases with 12 casualties.
Moreover, every possible action is being taken to contain the spread of the virus. Baluchistan government has announced the closure of all educational institutions in the province till March 15th as a precautionary measure. Sindh government was also quick to act and announced two days off (27th and 28th February) for educational institutes in the province. In a recent series of events, the Chief Minister of Sindh further ordered educational institutes both public and private to remain closed till 13th of March to further prevent the outbreak of disease.
Corona Virus: The facts
The virus COVID-19 is known to come from animals that can cause pneumonia. The victim experiences symptoms of coughs, flu, high fever and breathing difficulties. Since it is a viral pneumonia, antibiotics fail to work and recovery generally depends on the strength of the respective person’s immune system. WHO and other international organisations are working towards developing vaccines as a potential treatment plan.
However, the cases reported so far have shown rapid improvements and recovery with a death rate of 2-3% making it less deadly than other lethal disease like SARS and MERS. Therefore, it has not been declared as a pandemic as of yet. It is an airborne disease that can spread from person to person by being in close contact with the infected person (3 feet) or through the victim’s saliva droplets when they cough or sneeze.
Taking Preventive Measures
The disease can be easily controlled by following certain measures and steps:
1. Wash your hands: The most effective measure even from wearing masks is washing off your hands from soap and sanitiser multiple times throughout the day. Use your elbow instead of your hands to cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing.
2. Stay Hydrated: Keep your bodies hydrated with plentiful liquids.
3. Maintain Distance: Try to maintain an at least 3 foot distance from the sick person, avoiding physical contact such as hugs or shaking hands. It is also best to avoid crowded places.
4. Wearing Masks: This measure is only effective if worn continuously. The masks can however also be infected with germs and it is advisable to not wear them for more than a day since bacteria grows on the insides of your masks if worn for too long. Offer masks to people who are sick to avoid the air being infected.
Dr. Naseem Salahuddin, senior infectious disease specialist at Karachi's Indus Hospital, has pointed out that with improved medical research and treatments, the survival rate for the illness is around 98%. She further added that people who are already sick and weak and in particular suffer from lungs damaged by smoking or tuberculosis will be most impacted by the virus. Normal, healthy people on the other hand will likely suffer mild influenza like symptoms which can be easily treated, she was noted saying.
Currently, it is advisable not to create panic by spreading misinformation and is best to stay indoors to avoid unnecessary human contact. Adopt hygienic practices in your daily routine as well as in your surroundings to contain the virus. The need of the hour right now is to create massive public awareness and embrace a clean lifestyle.