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H1N1 has a higher mortality rate than coronavirus, moot told

By Our Correspondent
February 07, 2020

In 2002-SARS emerged in Southern China and spread to 30 countries. In 2009-H1N1 influenza strain emerged in Mexico and caused worldwide panic. In 2012-MERS emerged in Saudi Arabia and spread to 27 countries. In 2014-Ebola virus broke out in three West African countries. Today the whole world appears to be in the grip of a new deadly disease, coronavirus, which has emerged from China and is speedily spreading all over the world and becoming a worldwide pandemic, causing more than 24,000 confirmed cases and approximately 490 deaths in China. It has spread to 25 countries of the world.

These facts were shared by Dr Sara Salman, head of the sub office, Sindh, World Health Organisation (WHO), at an interactive seminar, titled ‘Coronavirus: world under deadly threat?’, organised by Ziauddin University on Thursday to raise awareness about this contiguous disease.

Discussing the origin and symptoms of the coronavirus, she said: “A novel coronavirus was identified as the source of the illnesses on January 7, with the infection traced to Wuhan seafood market that also sold live animals. It has very common symptoms just like normal flu, including fever, difficult breathing, impaired liver, kidney function, kidney failure, severe cough, pneumonia and unknown incubation period.”

On the role of WHO in Pakistan, Dr Sara further stated that we have taken major safety initiatives to control this virus by installing health information desks at airports to keep an eye on passengers, isolation wards have been set up at public and private hospitals in Sindh, and notifications and dissemination of all guidelines and SOPs have been circulated all over government and private hospitals and institutions.

Talking about viral infectious diseases, including influenza and coronavirus, Dr Nida Hussain, pro-chancellor, Ziauddin University, said: “We all are very well aware of corona; it’s all over the world as WHO has also declared emergency, but thankfully we haven’t received any case in Pakistan yet. Just a common flue is one of the main symptoms. Currently, H1N1 has a higher mortality rate than coronavirus. It is very much present in our communities and hospitals because of the expensive test people don’t even bother to go to the hospitals and get themselves checked.”

She further said: “We need to create awareness about it. People are more likely to get affected by such kinds of viral infections, including pregnant women, children under the age of two, people of heart conditions, people of neurological conditions, anybody with a weak immune systems and kidney problems.”

Giving references of previous deadly viruses, Dr Samreen Sarfaraz, consultant infectious disease, Indus Hospital, said “MERS Co-V had 2,494 cases, 858 deaths and a 37 per cent mortality rate. SARS Co-V had 8,098 cases, 774 deaths, and a 10 per cent mortality rate, while currently we are facing fatal coronavirus with 24,530 confirmed cases, 493 deaths and 2-3 per cent mortality rate.

“It is basically person-to-person spread among close contacts via respiratory droplets. Touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching own mouth, nose, or eyes can easily make you a coronavirus patient.”

Speaking about the prevention of coronavirus, she said: “We have to take certain steps, including the development of a plan of action, drills on dealing with a suspected case, the location of a place where a potential patient can be isolated, know whom to contact at the state or the local health department if you have a patient with the appropriate travel history. We should provide training to all hospital staff about proper wearing of special masks during the checkup of coronavirus or any other flu patient.”

Providing the awareness about high-risk exposure of coronavirus, Dr Syed Ahmed Raza Kazmi, director Clinical (Governance & Training), Sindh Health Care Commission, said: “A person living in the same household, a person having had face-to-face contact or having been in a closed environment, a healthcare worker or other person providing direct care, or laboratory workers handling coronavirus patient. A contact in an aircraft sitting within two seats (in any direction) of the 2019-nCoV case, travel companions or persons providing care, and crew members serving in the section of the aircraft where the index case was seated have high number of risk to get affected by this virus.”

Dr Muhammad Osama Rehman Khalid, consultant infectious diseases, Dr Ziauddin Hospital, said that in Pakistan we haven’t yet received any coronavirus case and we pray not to receive any because there is no vaccine for this deadly virus.

“Corona, influenza, swine flu all are viral infectious diseases and it is very difficult to catch the exact virus. We cannot easily differentiate between them because symptoms are almost the same for all these, like 100- plus temperature, body pain, runny nose, severe cough etc. Doctors and hospital staff should be very careful while treating the patients of infectious diseases; they should put on a mask, wear gloves, use goggles and adopt other safety measures before entering the room where such patients are kept because prevention is always better than the cure.”