Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Some people who returned from  Wuhan province of China  to this part of the world recently are complaining that they are being 'house arrested' as they are kept under observation. As a microbiologist, I would say, although I sympathise with these people, this measure is a must. This is not a political action, try to understand the difference, it is a medical measure and completely health science- related. 

Wuhan, as you might have realised now is that part of China where the current outbreak of Corona virus first reported, which has so far led to more than 2000 confirmed cases (2) and multiple deaths across the world. Whenever there is a new infection in humans, such as the novel coronavirus, it is appropriate to be concerned because we do not know enough about its potential. Although expert teams coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) are working on key questions to get answers as soon as possible, the level of uncertainty is still high. It is such uncertainty, inherent in emerging infectious disease outbreaks, that warrants concern. Until they are resolved, it is appropriate for the world to be concerned.

Corona virus ( Image source: Google images)

Scientists are watching the virus, watching the transmission patterns, and watching the people who have been infected.

It is important to take a precautionary approach while uncertainty persists. It is also important not to overreact and for measures to be scientifically sound. Concern over this outbreak is due, but panic is not.

A massive quarantine effort covering 13 cities was in effect in China on Saturday (25th Jan., 2020) aimed at containing the deadly virus, as the death toll climbed to 56 (2) and the first cases of the disease were reported in Europe and South Asia. 

China on Friday imposed transport bans in an area covering a staggering 41 million people, as the United States confirmed its second case of the SARS-like virus that has reached almost a dozen countries.

The virus has also spread to densely populated South Asia, where Nepal confirmed one case, and Europe, where two cases were reported in France.

With more than 2000 cases logged in China so far, a range of Lunar New Year festivities have been cancelled, with temporary closures of Beijing's Forbidden City, Shanghai's Disneyland and a section of the Great Wall to prevent the disease from spreading further (1).

This has now become an international health emergency. People who have no knowledge on how this infection spreads can spread it very fast with deadly consequences. In a global village, where travel of people is spreading the deadly infections very fast from one part of the globe to another, some scientific approaches are a must. Isolation and quarantine are these measures scientists and doctors suggest. 

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease.

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.  Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases. For example, hospitals use isolation for patients with infectious tuberculosis.

Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease.

The diseases for which this method is used are Cholera, Diphtheria, Infectious tuberculosis, Yellow fever, Viral hemorrhagic fevers (like Ebola), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Flu that can cause a pandemic.

Now do you want to spread these diseases to others, if you are infected? Do you want others to infect you with deadly diseases? 

Any responsible person would understand that both are unethical. 

So, don't complain, just do what the scientists and doctors ask you to do. Please co-operate and help the health authorities in containing these deadly outbreaks. 





Lassa fever kills 29 in Nigeria (3)

Nigerian health authorities have announced stepped-up emergency measures to tackle a rise in Lassa fever cases after 29 people died this month.

Endemic to Nigeria, Lassa fever belongs to the same family as the Ebola and Marburg viruses, but is much less deadly.

The virus is spread by contact with rat faeces or urine. It starts with fever and can, in worst case scenarios, lead to severe bleeding and organ failure.

Nigeria declared an outbreak of Lassa fever a year ago and around 170 people died from the virus in 2019.

The number of cases usually climbs in January due to weather conditions during the dry season.

Advice to people: practise good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families.


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