Spring Festival is normally a happy time of the year where people go back to their hometowns and villages to spend time with their family and childhood friends. However, this year, this annual time of happiness has actually become a period of panic and fear. This is mostly result of unprofessional journalism and the sharing of such nonsense on social media and instant messaging, and that’s because fear, panic and hysteria get page views. All this is undoubtedly causing more problems than the original virus.
Famous specialist on respiratory system, professor Kenneth Tsang, shared some facts and context about the Wuhan virus in Hong Kong, but these facts can be applied all over the world.
While one should be vigilant and should respond to changes in the overall situation appropriately, one must also remember the facts and realities. One must not just panic. The fear of catching WP needs to be verified. You have to catch WP from someone who has the virus. Where is this patient with WP? This WP patient who will infect you needs to have caught it from somewhere else beforehand. There is clearly human-to-human transmission but this seemed to be confined to family circle (i.e. very close and persistent contact) or from patients to medical staff. There was ONE case of a coach driver infected by Wuhan patients in Japan, but this human-to-human infection has not been reported in other countries, or at least not yet.
Altogether we have 14 proven cases in HK and these are almost all from the Mainland. We do not seem to have a community-based infection chain i.e. human-to-human spread within Hong Kong, at least not yet. In other words, we do not have Hongkongers infecting Hongkongers in the streets, in the supermarkers, in the restaurants, in the airport or in the office, at least not yet! Hence there is no need to panic. Let me tell you that influenza causes 40,000 deaths in America every year! Wuhan Pneumonia so far has a death rate of 2% only, God keep it like that please.
We are doing all the screening and checking procedures in the clinic to check out patients before they can access the clinic, to wear masks in the clinic and wash hands frequently, just to make sure because we are careful people. I hope our effort will instill confidence in our patients, staff and our family.
I attach some very well written and best of all, simple instructions from the Canadians from B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC):
- The most important thing a person can do to prevent getting coronavirus is to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face
- Coronavirus is not something that comes in through the skin. This virus is remitted through large droplets that are breathed deep into a person’s lungs.
- Receptors for coronavirus are found deep in a person’s lungs. A person must inhale enough of the virus that it can actually bind to those receptors deep in the lungs.
- Coronavirus is not airborne. The virus is transmitted through larger droplets that fall quickly out of the air — after a sneeze, for example.
- Coronavirus is not something that people can get from casual contact. A person must be in close proximity (within two metres) with somebody to be able to inhale those droplets if a person coughs or sneezes in front of them without covering up.
- The droplets can fall to the ground after a sneeze and a person can touch them with their hands. The risk of transmission is low in this case, as those droplets must be of significant enough quantity to make it to the receptors in a person’s lungs.
- If a person has touched something that has droplets on it with coronavirus in it, as long as they clean their hands before touching their face or your mouth, they are not at risk of getting that virus in their body.
- Masks should be used by sick people to prevent transmission to other people. A mask will help keep a person’s droplets in.
- It may be less effective to wear a mask in the community when a person is not sick themselves. Masks may give a person a false sense of security and are likely to increase the number of times a person will touch their own face to adjust the mask or for other reasons.
- Cover your mouth when you cough so you’re not exposing other people. If you are sick yourself, stay away from others. Contact your health care provider ahead of time so you can be safely assessed.
I hope we all stay brave, clear in our mind and positive with this outbreak. Like all viral outbreaks, which we see twice a year in HK for influenza, and even for SARS, or the dreaded ebola (which kills 40% of patients), this one will stop with good social hygiene, and early medical management (diagnosis, isolation and management) of patients.
With kind regards
To conclude, we should all be proud of China and its? unprecedented response. (WHO officials and many other government and healthcare officials across the globe also are.) It is quite incredible by any measure, not to mention an enormous economic sacrifice: provincial level governments restricted movement, restricted transportation, restricted business for a period of time combined with the voluntary dutiful cooperation of its 1.3 billion citizens who are in the majority quietly staying at home these weeks to let the virus pass; this model response is already being hailed by the international community as a remarkable unprecedented response setting a new standard in understanding what is possible for future outbreaks in whatever country they may occur.