|25 January, 2020

UAE doctors advise all to take coronavirus precautions

The 2019-nCoV appears to be less virulent than Mers although symptoms are similar

People wearing face masks walk past luxury boutiques in the Sanlitun shopping district in Beijing, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, January 25, 2020.

People wearing face masks walk past luxury boutiques in the Sanlitun shopping district in Beijing, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, January 25, 2020.

Reuters/Thomas Peter

Though the UAE's health ministry has confirmed that the country is completely free of coronavirus, doctors advise residents to take precautions.

Stay home while you are sick, avoid close contact with others and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing are the basic measures advised by experts.

"Currently there is no vaccine for coronavirus, hence it is advisable to avoid contact with anyone who is sick and suspected to have infection with coronavirus," said Dr Vikas Bhagat, critical care medicine specialist at Aster Hospital Mankhool.

"If you come in contact with someone suspected to have coronavirus infection, the risk of infection can be reduced by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and by avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands," said the doctor.

Dr Sundar Elayaperumal, microbiologist at Burjeel Hospital, said people should watch out for the symptoms of the virus.

"Coronavirus symptoms include runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days. For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there's a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis."

Patients with infection have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache and a general feeling of being unwell," said Dr Amr Mahmoud El Naggar, emergency specialist and head of ER at Medcare Hospital Al Safa.

Not like other coronaviruses

According to El Naggar, Mers and the Wuhan coronavirus, (2019-nCoV) cause diseases of different severity. The 2019-nCoV appears to be less virulent than Mers although symptoms are similar. "There are some important differences, such as the absence of upper respiratory tract symptoms like runny nose, sneezing and sore throat and intestinal symptoms like diarrhoea.

"Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged 2019-nCoV is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Mers or the one that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003," said Dr Bhagat.

"The recently emerged 2019-mCoV and Sars are comparable in symptoms and origin but their severity is not.

"The new coronavirus appears to be less severe than the Sars. It might be more contagious, however, given that the outbreak is spreading faster than Sars did," explained the doctor.

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

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