Health ministry on high alert for coronavirus

28 January 2020 | Health

The health ministry has instructed public and private health facilities countrywide to strengthen detection, diagnosis and surveillance so that possible coronavirus cases can be identified.

This is after the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on countries to strengthen their prevention and control measures following a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan has killed at least 80 people and infected more than 2 700, China's National Health Committee said in a report released on Sunday. The virus has spread to at least 12 other countries.

In response to the WHO's call for strengthened measures, the health ministry said in a statement on Friday that it had sent alerts to all the country's regions, including general information on the virus as well as guidance on case management and surveillance.

“Health facilities, both public and private, as well as laboratories, are informed to strengthen case detection, diagnosis, and the management of all possible cases,” the ministry said.

Close monitoring with intensified surveillance is underway, especially at the main international points of entry to ensure prompt case detection and response.

The ministry further advised the public to regularly wash their hands with soap and water and cover their mouths and noses with a tissue or cloth when coughing or sneezing.

Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette and limit contact with others.

The ministry said further that food such as meat, poultry, seafood and eggs should be cooked properly and close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, should be avoided.

The statement said people should seek immediate treatment if infection is suspected, especially in cases involving a travel history to China in the past 14 days or contact with a person from China who is reported to be infected with the virus.

The outbreak has been linked to a market selling chickens, cats, marmots, other wild animals and seafood, which has been closed since 1 January for cleaning.

The virus is spread mainly from an infected person to others though respiratory secretions, the health ministry said.


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