Cork doctors briefed on deadly coronavirus

Cork doctors briefed on deadly coronavirus
Health Officials in hazmat suits check body temperatures of passengers arriving from the city of Wuhan Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, at the airport in Beijing, China. Nearly two decades after the disastrously-handled SARS epidemic, ChinaÕs more-open response to a new virus signals its growing confidence and a greater awareness of the pitfalls of censorship, even while the government is as authoritarian as ever. (AP Photo Emily Wang)

DOCTORS in Cork have been briefed by the Director of Public Health for the HSE South on a deadly virus that has killed up to 18 people in China, amid fears that it has spread.

The outbreak of the illness was caused by a previously unknown type of coronavirus, a broad family of infections ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like severe acute respiratory syndrome, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The 2019-nCoV coronavirus was first reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019, with symptoms ranging from fever and cough to other pneumonia-like symptoms.

There are around 630 confirmed cases, according to the latest figures, and 18 people have died.

Cases of the virus have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and the US.

Meanwhile, around five people in Scotland were being tested for the virus on Thursday night.

In an email to Cork healthcare workers, Dr Augustine Pereira, Director of Public Health for the HSE South, said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is closely monitoring the outbreak.

“In light of the emerging Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan City, the HPSC has developed a number of risk assessment algorithms for use in primary care,which also covers private hospital and non-receiving hospitals, ambulance services, and hospital settings,” he explained.

“In light of the emerging Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan City, the HPSC has developed a number of risk assessment algorithms for use in primary care,which also covers private hospital and non-receiving hospitals, ambulance services, and hospital settings,” he explained.

Hospital staff wash the emergency entrance of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The number of cases of a new coronavirus from Wuhan has risen to over 400 in China health authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Hospital staff wash the emergency entrance of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The number of cases of a new coronavirus from Wuhan has risen to over 400 in China health authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

The HPSC has asked GPs to ascertain if a patient has travelled to Wuhan, China in the past 14 days or has come into contact with the virus.

If the patient then presents with a high fever and acute respiratory infection of any degree of severity, including shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, or pneumonia, the HSPC has warned the patient must be isolated and the Department of Public Health must be informed.

Dr Pereira explained that if the person fits both of the above criteria, then this person should be transferred to the nearest receiving hospital via ambulance.

“The National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the local receiving hospital should be alerted in advance of the transfer of a possible case of 2019-nCoV,” he said.

The Medical Officer of Health in Public Health should also be alerted to the identification of a possible case of novel coronavirus.

“In addition, it is important that appropriate Infection Prevention and Control precautions be taken,” he added.

Dr Pereira stressed that, as there are many other reasons for infectious respiratory illness at this time of year, it is important that the person fits both criteria before a doctor declares a possible case of the coronavirus.

He also warned that, if a symptomatic person phones the Primary Care service and indicates that they may have novel coronavirus or are concerned because they have travelled from China and are now unwell, a remote risk assessment is to be performed over the phone.

“As this is an emerging situation, guidance and case definitions may change to reflect new knowledge about the disease,” said Dr Pereira.

There are no known medicines or vaccines developed to tackle this coronavirus but experts in Davos announced on Thursday that they are working to address this.

More in this section

Sponsored Content