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A call for calm


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 29 January 2020 00:03


As face masks fly off shelves, and the public work to deal with the fresh challenge of having a con-firmed coronavirus case in the country, it is important to remain calm and have reasonable trust in the public healthcare service. 

Obviously this is a very difficult time for people in Sri Lanka and around the world. Other countries are also contending with containing the virus and working to find a cure. A vaccination is likely to be at least a year into the future, which means that heightened precautions are the best that can be done at this point. 

The Government has outlined a multipronged action plan that covers all points of entry into the coun-try, and has established a system to monitor travellers to Sri Lanka in each province. This will mean that public healthcare officials will have to be additionally vigilant in the coming days, and basic equipment and other resources will have to be readily available. 

The biggest concern at this point is no one is aware of how long this situation could last, and how much worse it could get. This means that Governments have to keep ready resources and personnel for an extended amount of time. Sri Lanka is no exception, and if students studying in Wuhan City are al-lowed to return to the country, they will have to be monitored closely. It is positive that the Diyath-alawa Army Camp has been allocated for this purpose. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its preventative guidelines has called for people to avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing. Other symptoms of this coronavirus include fever and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to pneu-monia, kidney failure and even death.

Scientists believe this coronavirus started in another animal and then spread to humans. So health of-ficials recommend cooking meat and eggs thoroughly, which is of less concern in Sri Lanka as almost all protein is curried. 

Anyone with underlying medical conditions should avoid live animal markets and raw meats altogeth-er, since those people are "considered at higher risk of severe disease," by WHO. But in general, the public should do what they do every cold and flu season, which includes washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

People who may be feeling sick should cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces touched. Surgical masks are preferred if flu or cold symptoms are observed. Some of the other tips include avoiding public spaces, touching other people, and if circum-stances make it unavoidable, then refrain from touching face or eyes.  

As anxious as the public is, it is important to spare a thought for the doctors, nurses and other medical staff as well as public servants at the airport and elsewhere, who are effectively at the frontlines of fighting this epidemic. As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes, and this is one such instance when millions of people owe their lives to the vigilance and conscientiousness of these dedicated indi-viduals. We the public cannot help but be grateful. 

 


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