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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:43 am

Coronavirus: Kurdish doctors
separate myths from facts


Rumors and disinformation have done nothing to calm the collective mood of panic rippling across the Kurdistan Region since coronavirus arrived in Iraq this week. Rudaw has brought together a panel of Kurdish medical experts to separate the myths from the facts

Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan on December 31 and has killed at least 2,770 people and infected more than 80,000 worldwide.

For the first time since the initial outbreak, new cases are now rising faster outside China, with Italy, Iran, and South Korea seeing notable spikes.

Health officials confirmed Iraq’s first case of the virus in Najaf on Monday, followed on Tuesday by four more cases in Kirkuk. In all cases, the infected individuals had recently returned from trips to Iran, where the virus is spreading rapidly.

Under containment measures imposed over the weekend, Iraqis returning from Iran must first undergo a 14-day monitoring period and must also be tested in their homes by medical teams.

Furthermore, Iraqis are not permitted to visit Iran unless they are part of a diplomatic delegation, and the federal government has suspended all Iraqi Airlines flights serving Najaf and Baghdad routes to Iran until further notice.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has also quarantined hundreds of people newly returned from Iran in two hotels in Soran, and has barred visitors from the local hospital.

The flurry of headlines, government notices, and social media chatter has stirred the public into a frenzy, with motorists panic buying fuel and local pharmacies stripped bare of hand sanitizers and facemasks.

Rudaw brought together a panel of medical experts at the Shar Hospital in Sulaimani on Monday evening to help dispel some of the rumours surrounding coronavirus and offer some advice on how the public can guard against it.

Don’t travel, avoid crowds

“Until now, no coronavirus case exists in Sulaimani province at all,” said Dr. Rzgar Ali, head of the Health Protection Department of Sulaimani, participating in the panel.

“This disease has gripped a large number of countries around the world. And it is so unfortunate that it has also reached this region,” he said.

“We have prepared sets of regulations. The best solution to block the virus is self-protection. We advise the beloved people to assist us to protect our city and themselves as well as adhering to our regulations and advice.”

“First, our best advice for them is: do not travel to China and the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to scientific probabilities, the disease could be contained and controlled in one to two months,” Ali said.

“We ask everyone to suspend their travel plans for the time being.”

Coronavirus is spread through person to person contact and can be transmitted rapidly in crowded urban spaces.

“The second piece of advice is: avoid crowds and events such as parties, concerts, and places where there is not enough air ventilation,” Ali said.

“Third, suspend religious activities such as Umrah [pilgrimage]. It is a continuous process. You can perform it at any time of the year if you wish. Because when you go to Saudi Arabia, many people from across the world travel there, including Muslims from China and Iran. It is very necessary to avoid it,” he added.

The KRG and its religious ministry are now considering the suspension of Friday prayers across the Region to prevent contagion among whole congregations. A large number of people in South Korea infected by the virus were part of the same church community.

“Fourth, if you notice someone nearby you with a cough, sneezing, avoid them. God forbid, if you have them, use tissues and throw them in the bin. Let us make it a must – wash your hands every now and then with sterilizer,” Ali said.

Dr. Nawroz Saeed, head of the Transmitting Disease Department in Sulaimani, urged the public not to panic but to take action to prevent contagion.

“Corona is in the courtyard of our house. We have to take care of ourselves. It should not panic us to the point we are confused,” Saeed said.

“We should be afraid of corona to the extent that it should only make us protect ourselves.”

Eat well

Rudaw also invited a group of nutritionists to share their advice on how to bolster the body’s immune system against the virus.

Water, milk, onions, garlic, eggs, oranges, tangerines, lemons, apples, broccoli, and cucumbers are “the enemies of coronavirus and friends of the body and a good health,” said Dr. Shara Bakhtyar.

“Such foods are not used to treat the disease, but to help avoid it. By using them, we can strengthen our immune system,” Bakhtyar said. “Avoid stress. When you are stressed, your immune system’s defenses lower.”

“Water is good to improve the immune system. Fresh boiled milk is also good, containing nutrients useful to confront bacteria and viruses. It contains good proteins and calcium, sodium, potassium.”

“Green tea is an antioxidant. It works very well to improve your immune system. Onion and garlic – they are anti-viral. Tomatoes are an antioxidant, too. In eggs, the yolk contains very good protein,” she said.

“Others such as walnuts and dates are extremely useful as they contain vitamin E. Fruits and vegetables including oranges, lemons, and tangerines are abundant in vitamin C,” she added.

Dr. Lana Abdul, another nutritionist on the panel, also offered advice on how to prepare fish, chicken, and red meat, tinned foods, and fresh milk to avoid contagion.

“Luckily, there has not yet been any case involving meat as a means of transmitting Covid-19,” Abdul said.

Meat should be “very cleanly sliced up and washed. Before touching the food, we have to make sure we wash our hands and do not touch our eyes, mouths, or noses,” she added.

Dr. Sivan Saman, meanwhile, described fizzy soft drinks and alcohol as “the enemies of body” and “friends of the disease” because they lower the body’s natural defenses. Smoking is also not encouraged.

“I am talking about those drinks that undermine the defense of the immune system. One of them is cigarettes and smoking as a whole. They damage the red and white blood cells. Soft drinks contain abundant sugar as we know,” he added.

Facemasks ‘not necessary’

One common feature of the outbreak across the world is the widespread public use of surgical facemasks. However, pulmonologist Dr. Rebaz Hamza Kamaran Qaradaghi, participating in the panel, said: “The use of mask is completely unnecessary right now.”

“It is indeed a big lie that people are panicked into thinking they must wear masks,” he said.

“None of the masks and all their types are designed for coronavirus. They are used for other purposes. Most of them are designed to be used at hospitals, or by physicians during surgeries or when you want to protect yourself from sneezes or when visiting a patient.”

Demand for the masks and latex gloves have nevertheless been on the rise in the Kurdistan Region as the virus draws closer.

KRG authorities have closed down eighteen pharmacies in Erbil earlier this week after their owners raised the price of surgical masks to profit from the panic.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/260220202
Last edited by Anthea on Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advice

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Re: Coronavirus: Kurdish doctors separate myths from facts

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:34 pm

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How deadly is the coronavirus?

Based on data from 44,000 patients with this coronavirus, the WHO says:

    81% develop mild symptoms
    14% develop severe symptoms
    5% become critically ill
The proportion dying from the disease, which has been named Covid-19, appears low (between 1% and 2%) - but the figures are unreliable.

Thousands are still being treated but may go on to die - so the death rate could be higher. But it is also unclear how many mild cases remain unreported - so the death rate could also be lower.

To put this into context, about one billion people catch influenza every year, with between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths. The severity of flu changes every year.

Can coronavirus be treated or cured?

Right now, treatment relies on the basics - keeping the patient's body going, including breathing support, until their immune system can fight off the virus.

However, the work to develop a vaccine is under way and it is hoped there will be human trials before the end of the year.

Hospitals are also testing anti-viral drugs to see if they have an impact.
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Re: Coronavirus: Kurdish doctors separate myths from facts

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:51 pm

Ways to protect yourself
and others include:


    avoid touching the mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands

    washing your hands before eating

    carrying a hand sanitiser at all times

    being particularly mindful of touching your face after using public transport or going to the airport

    carry tissues at all times to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (then dispose of it)

    not eating shared or communal food

    avoiding shaking hands, kissing cheeks

    regularly cleaning and sanitise commonly used surfaces and items, such as phones and keys

    avoiding close contact with people suffering from or showing symptoms of acute respiratory infection

    seeking medical attention if you feel unwell.
https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zeal ... rself.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:09 pm

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:11 pm

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:01 am

All the essential information you need

Does handwashing really work?

Yes. A new study published by the highly-respected Cochrane Database which summarises and interprets numerous studies says that handwashing cuts the chances of contracting a respiratory illness such as coronavirus by 54 per cent – the best odds of any deterrent.

So wash your hands – scrubbing every bit of skin from your wrist downwards – at every opportunity for at least 20 seconds (or for however long it takes to sing Happy Birthday in your head twice).

Family and friends can easily bring in the virus. To reduce this threat, institute a handwashing rule for everyone as soon as they enter the house. And make sure there is one hand towel for each person

Should I use public transport?

Only if necessary. If you can work from home rather than commuting, and also minimise shopping trips, you will greatly reduce your infection risk.

One recent study in Nottingham found that people who contracted the flu virus in 2011 were nearly six times more likely than others to have travelled by public transport in the five days before developing symptoms.

Planes, trains and buses are high-risk environments for easily transmitted viruses – and Covid-19 is particularly infectious – to spread on to our hands via surfaces such as handrails, seats and handles.

Some commuters are turning to extravagant face masks which the World Health Organisation suggests can protect others if you are coughing and spluttering.

But if you’re more concerned about your own welfare, keep your hands in your pockets whenever possible and try to travel at off-peak times.

If you can work from home rather than commuting, and also minimise shopping trips, you will greatly reduce your infection risk

If I stay at home, will I be safe?

No. Family and friends can easily bring in the virus. To reduce this threat, institute a handwashing rule for everyone as soon as they enter the house.

And make sure there is one hand towel for each person. If that’s not practicable, wash towels frequently.
How should I greet a friend?

Kissing somebody on the cheek is, as the French government is warning, a one-way ticket to speeding up viral transmission. As to kissing on the mouth... just say no!

According to GP and health commentator Dr Rosemary Leonard, we should ‘stop shaking hands’ too.

Perhaps that’s why Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer waved away Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand at a meeting yesterday.

The safest way to greet someone is to simply say: ‘Hello.’

But if that’s not enough, recent tests by Aberystwyth University show that fist-bumping transfers only a tenth of the bacteria that a handshake transmits.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer refuses shaking hand with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel during Integration Summit at Prime Ministry building in Berlin, Germany on March 02, 2020

Do I need to change the way I wash my clothes?

According to the NHS all underwear, towels and household linen should be washed at 60C or 40C with a bleach-based laundry product to prevent microbes spreading.

There’s no point adding more detergent, as modern machines are programmed to break up and wash away surplus cleaning agent.

Using a dryer on high heat for more than 28 minutes can also kill harmful micro-organisms – though you could also hang up your washing outdoors in direct sunlight, which has disinfecting properties.

Always remember to wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.

Should I stockpile food?

There's no need to hoard for a nuclear winter, but it might be wise to have some long-lasting foods in the larder.

Ian Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland, Australia, has suggested buying cereals, grains, beans, lentils, pasta, tinned fish, vegetables, fruit, oil, dried fruit, nuts, powdered milk and a few sweet treats.

This will also cut your number of shopping trips – thus reducing your risk of exposure – and could be useful in the unlikely event that your town or city is put into lockdown.

(If you rely on online supermarket delivery, be sure to order your items well in advance. Online supermarket Ocado is warning that some customers are buying ‘particularly large orders’ and ‘delivery slots are selling out quicker than expected’.

Supermarket shelves in countries affected by the COVID-19 virus have been emptied of basic necessities, such as pasta and toilet paper, in recent days but there is no shortage so far

What if my town is locked down?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out placing British cities on lockdown – when residents’ movements are restricted – as is the case in parts of China and northern Italy.

Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, the Government has the power to close schools, shut down public transport and stop mass gatherings to protect the public – though it seems unlikely it will be enforced.

Will exams be affected?

Students should keep on swotting. The exam watchdog Ofqual announced yesterday that schools in England should prepare as usual for the summer exam season.

However, the Government will make contingency plans if there is a ‘widespread outbreak’.

What about school trips?

Some overseas trips by schools, colleges and universities are being cancelled already.

Even visits to places outside virus-stricken areas are affected, as some institutions are concerned that shepherding youngsters through highly populated zones such as airports may be a risk too far.

Check with your school etc for the most up-to-date information.

Should older people worry?

The evidence so far is that older people (especially those with underlying health issues) who have weaker immune systems are at greater risk of serious illness and death. Children and young adults seem more resilient.

According to recent analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, the death rate was ten times higher in the very elderly compared with the middle-aged.

The elderly should be encouraged to limit their outings and social contact and insist that visitors wash their hands upon arrival.

So the real question is: how keen are you to go out? Any concert trip, for example, raises the risk of catching winter flu and colds.

It’s important to factor in the current state of health of your guest and how likely it is they’ll be exposed to the virus – but ultimately it’s up to you and them whether you want to risk it.

What about prescriptions?

Factory shutdowns in China where many vital ingredients for common drugs are made are an issue.

Some of the largest pharmaceutical companies – including AstraZeneca and Pfizer – have said that the outbreak could affect their supplies.

There is some evidence of panic-buying of over-the-counter medicines, though none of these will protect against coronavirus or its worst symptoms. Ocado has reportedly just sold out of Calpol.

Can I carry on going to church?

The Church of England has said that there is no need to change normal faith practices, such as taking wine from the communal chalice.

But the Catholic Church is warning against taking wine from the chalice and advising congregations to accept the communion wafer in their hands rather than have it placed on the tongue.

Can you get infected twice?

If you get infected and fight off the infection, then your immune system will be primed with antibodies to destroy the virus should you be exposed again.

It’s like being vaccinated, and should be just as effective.

However, there are fears that the virus can lie dormant in the body with minimal symptoms, and then return.

This seems to have happened to one Japanese woman whose symptoms re-emerged after she had been declared infection-free.

Should I cancel my ski trip?

Keep an eye on the gov.uk website for latest travel advice. If it advises against travel to a certain region and you decide to go, your insurance won’t be valid.

Nor will insurers pay out if you cancel a holiday to a location that is not deemed high risk.

As of last night, there were no warnings about French, Swiss, Italian and Austrian ski resorts – although the Foreign Office advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to 11 small towns in northern Italy.

Keep an eye on the gov.uk website for latest travel advice. If it advises against travel to a certain region and you decide to go, your insurance won’t be valid

Can my dog catch the virus?

According to the World Health Organisation, there’s no evidence at present that dogs or cats can be infected with coronavirus.

But given the virus is believed to have already jumped species once – there is speculation that it originated in bats – we cannot rule it out from happening again.

Always wash your hands with soap and hot water after contact with pets.

According to the World Health Organisation, there’s no evidence at present that dogs or cats can be infected with coronavirus

Any upsides?

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, quite possibly.

If people heed the new health warnings, adopt rigorous personal hygiene habits – and stick to them – we may well see a drop in infectious diseases overall.

As of last night, there were no warnings about French, Swiss, Italian and Austrian ski resorts – although the Foreign Office advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to 11 small towns in northern Italy. A near empty St Mark's Square in Venice is pictured above

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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/arti ... -need.html
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:29 pm

In the UK people are panic buying

Anti bacterial washes/sprays have been sold out

Tinned foods are vanishing from the shelves

Sugar is hard to get

We have very few cases of Coronavirus in the UK and most traceable to people returning from holiday in places such China, Iran and Italy

I hate to think what the situation is in other countries

Whatever country you are in: If YOU live near an ELDERLY or DISABLED person PLEASE make sure they are coping alright and have enough food
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:01 pm

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:36 pm

Latest UK figures:

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:50 pm

The emphasises is still on personal hygiene

The Coronavirus is thought to remain active for 24 hours on hard surfaces

Door-handles; handrails; tablets (iPads); cups; plates; cutlery; trays and anything else one touches when away from home

WASH YOUR HANDS - DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE

Living with family members, if you have any signs of infections remain in a separate room; do NOT share anything with other family members; keep your personal items such as towels and toothbrushes in your room

Bedding and towels should be washed at at least 60c or on washing machine hygiene level
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:58 pm

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:32 pm

Kurdistan: Nearly 300
to leave quarantine


Nearly 300 people quarantined for two weeks upon return from coronavirus-hit Iran were on Thursday cleared to return home by Kurdish health officials, in a first for the Kurdistan Region since the outbreak began

All 283 people held at three different quarantine sites in Soran province bordering Iran have been declared clear of any coronavirus symptoms.

"A total of 283 individuals who were quarantined in three different locations of Soran will be let home today,” Karwan Jamal, head of Soran’s Health Department told Rudaw.

"All of them underwent medical tests for 14 consecutive days, twice a day," Jamal said. "Thankfully, they are all safe and did not show any signs of coronavirus."

A second group of 111 people “will be allowed home tomorrow (Friday)," he added.

Those who have left quarantine should still take health precautions, Jamal said, advising that they "check on their health and not visit crowded places for another two weeks."

“People are returning from Iran on a daily basis, so we have dedicated a place in Soran to quarantine the new returnees," he added, though returnee numbers from Iran have “dropped significantly” in the last fortnight.

Kurdish and Iraqi authorities have closed their borders with Iran and canceled direct flights serving Iranian cities, and Iraqi citizens returning from Iran must undergo 14 days in quarantine.

"According to our data, 10 to 15 people are returning daily," Jamal said.

One of those cleared to return home, a Soran native, commended the stringent quarantine measures being taken for those returning from neighboring Iran, where almost 3,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded – the fourth highest national total worldwide.

"Every morning and evening, they used to test our temperature,” he said of the virus monitoring procedure. “In this place where 135 people have been quarantined, none of us had any [health] problems, thank god."

According to health ministry figures, 2,303 people remain in quarantine across 27 Kurdistan Region locations.

Besides quarantine, KRG measures to prevent spread of the virus has included the shutdown of schools, a reduction in working hours across government institutions, and a ban on large public gatherings.

Total confirmed cases in Iraq stand at 37, according to data from Iraqi and KRG health authorities. All eight Kurdistan Region cases have been recorded in the city of Sulaimani.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/050320201
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:38 pm

Friday prayers will not be
suspended in Kurdistan


Friday prayers will continue as normal in mosques across the Kurdistan Region, the Supreme Fatwa Council of the Kurdistan Union of Islamic Scholars said Tuesday, despite concerns the coronavirus could spread easily among congregations

Friday is the holy day in the Islamic week when Muslims attend mosque for group prayer and to listen to sermons.

However, there are concerns the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, could rapidly spread through person-to-person contact in such a crowded setting.

The Fatwa Council, the Kurdistan Region’s highest religious authority, does not believe the outbreak is serious enough at this stage to warrant cancelling Friday prayers.

“According to Sharia [Islamic law], Friday sermons at this stage cannot be suspended, except in places where the disease has certainly spread and become an epidemic,” the Fatwa Council said in a statement.

It did recommend some precautionary measures, however.

“We are calling on clerics to shorten their Friday sermons and to help keep mosques clean and to advise people to take their ablutions at home.”

It also called for the cancellation of all “social and religious activities such as Isra’ and Mi’raj, Mawlood, wedding parties, and funerals everywhere”.

In the Islamic faith, the Isra’ and Mi’raj are the two parts of the nighttime journey the Prophet Muhammad took to meet Allah around the year 621. Mawlood meanwhile is the celebration of the prophet’s birthday.

The fatwa follows a decision by Iranian religious authorities to suspend last week’s Friday prayers in Tehran and 22 other Iranian provinces amid a massive outbreak of coronavirus.

It was the first time Friday prayers had been suspended since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It is not clear whether this week’s sermons will also be canceled.

‘Rank of martyrdom’

The Kurdistan Region’s Fatwa Council also said it would bestow “the rank of martyrdom” upon anyone who dies after contracting COVID-19.

To date, no one in Iraq or the Kurdistan Region has died from complications associated with coronavirus.

“Those who die of coronavirus will be granted the rank of martyrdom,” the fatwa reads. “Relevant authorities are responsible for carrying out the burial processions in accordance with Islamic Sharia regulations.”

“Those who do not feel well or are vulnerable to contracting the virus can skip Friday sermons and group prayers,” it said.

“All religious activities involving Quran teaching classes and other subjects related to religion should be suspended.”

“Do not visit patients at home or hospital. It is better to check up on them by phone or through text message,” it added.

The novel coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. It has since spread to at least 56 countries and territories and has infected close to 90,000 people worldwide, with the global death toll surpassing 3,000.

While the rate of infection has slowed in China, other global hotspots are struggling to contain its spread.

The Kurdistan Region has taken strict measures by closing down schools and reducing working hours across government institutions.

Kurdish and Iraqi authorities have also closed their borders with Iran and canceled direct flights serving Iranian cities. Iraqi citizens returning from Iran must undergo 14 days in quarantine.

To dodge security checks and avoid the quarantine, some Kurdistan Region residents have been smuggled across the Iranian border, security officials (Asayesh) told Rudaw on Thursday.

Five cases have been confirmed in the Kurdistan Region city of Sulaimani so far. All of the patients had recently returned form Iran.

A total of 2,484 people have been quarantined across the Kurdistan Region and 89 people have been tested, health minister Barzanji said Monday.

Iraqi provinces outside the Kurdistan Region meanwhile have confirmed 27 cases, with seven new infections recorded on Monday.

At least two of the most recent cases were returnees from Iran, a regional epicenter for the virus where 66 people have died and 1,501 people have tested positive, according to Tehran’s health ministry.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/03032020
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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:08 pm

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Re: Coronavirus: we separate myths from facts and give advic

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:25 pm

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
ABOUT CORONAVIRUS IN UK


What is the scale of the problem?

Cases of coronavirus in the UK more than doubled in 48 hours as the country moved towards the 'delay phase' of tackling the virus.

A patient with underlying health conditions became the first person in the UK to die after testing positive.

The older patient had been 'in an out of hospital' for other reasons but was admitted on Wednesday evening to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and tested positive.

Some 163 people have tested positive, including 147 in England, two in Wales, 11 in Scotland and three in Northern Ireland. Just two days ago there were 51 UK cases.

China has reported more than 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths. Outside China, there have been more than 12,000 cases and over 200 deaths across more than 75 countries.

How bad could it get?

Half of all coronavirus cases in the UK are most likely to occur in just a three-week period, with 95 per cent of them over a nine-week period, according to England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Professor Whitty said he had a 'reasonably high degree of confidence' that one per cent is at the 'upper limit' of the mortality rate for the virus, although Wuhan in China, which has a weaker health system, had seen an eight to nine per cent mortality rate for those aged 80 and over.

What is the Government doing now?

The UK has moved to the delay stage, which means measures can be ramped up to delay its spread, with possibilities including school closures, encouraging greater home working, and reducing the number of large-scale gatherings.

However, officials say closing schools would possibly only have a 'marginal effect', adding that children do not appear to be as badly affected by Covid-19 as other groups.

In comparison, the figure for the same week last year was just 320,000 – or 45,000 calls per day.

The NHS today said call handlers are working 'round the clock' to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

Disgruntled patients have complained they have waited four hours for a call back or in the case of one IT worker, four days.

The NHS has already announced it would plough an extra £1.7million into the service to recruit an additional 500 staff, and set up a new coronavirus advice website.

One of the confirmed cases is a female NHS worker in her thirties in Cumbria who caught the virus while on a family holiday in Italy.

Three other workers in the health service are known to be among the 90.

A GP in Brighton and a hospital doctor in nearby Worthing were among the first cases to be diagnosed in the UK in early February, after they went on holiday together with a man who caught it in Singapore.

And an NHS employee working out of offices in Maidstone, Kent, was also confirmed to have caught the disease.

Professor Whitty said NHS staff would be urged to be extra careful about their own health and stay home from work if they felt ill.

He said he believed infections among NHS workers would be 'similar to other areas' because staff would be told to curb their usual habits of working through illness.

'NHS staff are remarkably determined to come and serve their professions,' he told ministers today.

'They may come in with quite significant feelings of unwellness... We would definitely not wish them to do that in this situation.'

Asked whether he thought the NHS could cope with the pressure of an outbreak, Professor Whitty added that he expected it to fare better than hospitals in Wuhan.

He said: 'At a peak, like Hubei, for short period of time their system was overwhelmed.

'We would not expect our system to be overwhelmed but would expect it to be radically changed.

'[This is] one of the reasons we are hoping to see if people who are recently retired might, for a very short period of time, come in to fill gaps.

Link to Full Article - Photos:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... dvice.html
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