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Be cautious: Nachiappan

Wednesday, 5th February, 2020

Dr Ramu Nachiappan. PICTURE: Andrew West Dr Ramu Nachiappan. PICTURE: Andrew West

By Emily McInerney

Taking precautions against flu-like illnesses is the best way to target the Coronavirus “hysteria”, according to a local doctor.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the 2019 Coronavirus which is found in most animals but less commonly also infects humans. 

The SARS virus first identified in China in 2002 was a coronavirus. About 700 people died from it and 8000 people were infected within 12 months but it is no longer a danger. 

MERS, identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, was another coronavirus.

Dr Ramu Nachiappan of Nachiappan’s Surgery said the latest form of the virus was first identified in Wuhan, a city in central China in January this year. 

According to recent statistics, 360 people have died so far and over 14000 are said to be infected worldwide.

“It is unclear how much it is going to spread or how many will perish from it,” said Dr Nachiappan. “Scientists around the world are racing to create a vaccine to defend against this organism.”

He said the Coronavirus should be treated like the flu unless there had been a recent history of travel to China.

“The current Coronavirus infection presents as a flu-like illness with high temperatures, upper respiratory symptoms including sore throat, breathlessness and cough that rapidly develops.

“One should be concerned if there is a clear history of contact with a person who has had the infection or there is a history of travel to the Wuhan city or region in China. 

“Otherwise, it is best to treat as a flu-like illness as most people will improve in a two-week period.”

Dr Nachiappan said that as with any flu virus it was important to take precautions. 

“If infected or unwell with a flu-like illness, wear a mask, avoid physical contact with others, preferably staying at home for the duration of illness.

“Cover the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, wash hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-containing hand wash, and see your GP or public hospital for further management. 

“This may include testing for the Coronavirus and anti-viral medication that is available via prescription from a chemist.” 

In Australia in 2017, influenza was confirmed in 58,000 people and there were over 1,100 deaths.

Last year there were 310,000 lab-confirmed cases and 430 deaths. 

“In my opinion, despite the media coverage the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is not an illness that warrants the global hysteria that is prevailing around the world,” Dr Nachiappan said.

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