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Coronavirus in UAE: Don't panic, ministry tells residents, as first case of 2019-nCoV Wuhan virus detected in country

Dhanusha Gokulan, Sandhya D'Mello/Dubai
Filed on January 29, 2020 | Last updated on January 29, 2020 at 12.03 pm
coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, Wuhan, DHA, coronavirus case in UAE

(Reuters)

The disease has claimed 132 lives since it first broke out.

Following the announcement of UAE's first confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Wednesday, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and medical professionals have asked residents to not panic.

Coronavirus outbreak: Detailed coverage

The ministry tweeted on Wednesday, "The general health situation is not a cause of concern. The first case of coronavirus was diagnosed in Chinese citizens from Wuhan city, China. Meanwhile, the health condition of those infected is stable and under medical observation."

It added, "The Ministry of Health and Prevention is working around the clock to immediately report any new cases."



Furthermore, senior medical professionals in the private sector have told Khaleej Times that if the need arises, private hospitals in the UAE are also prepared to handle cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, a viral disease that has claimed 132 lives since the outbreak.

However, all potential cases of the novel coronavirus will only be tested in UAE's central laboratories, according to senior medical experts and external circulars issued by the UAE's Ministry of Health and the Dubai Health Authority.

Coronavirus in UAE: Your questions answered

Dr Charles Stanford, a senior director with VPS Healthcare, who has also worked on the 2002 SARS epidemic, also a form of the coronavirus, told Khaleej Times that all potential cases of the novel coronavirus will only be tested in UAE's central laboratories.

He said, "We cannot afford to have it (testing) done by relatively less experienced people. However, if it ever reaches that sort of level, where the number of cases increases, we are prepared to handle the cases. The staff have been made aware of the situation."


Travel history of patients to be analysed

An external circular issued by the UAE health ministry instructs hospitals to assess patients only if they meet certain criteria including coughing or having difficulty breathing - with or without a fever.

Also, the circulars instruct hospitals to be more vigilant about managing cases with acute respiratory symptoms especially if they have a travel history to China during the last 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms.

How to protect yourself from coronavirus

According to the document from the ministry, "Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients being evaluated with fever and acute respiratory illness. Cases with epidemiological exposure, visit Wuhan or contact with a laboratory-confirmed case should be urgently notified to the relevant health department."

Furthermore, a similar to a second external circular issued by the DHA to hospitals in Dubai testing for the novel coronavirus in the UAE can only be performed at central laboratories.

It said, "At this stage, the laboratory testing for 2019-nCoV is performed at the national public health lab only. All samples from suspected cases should be sent to Dubai Health Authority. Lab testing is performed to confirm a clinically suspected case and to screen contacts."


Dr Adel Al Sisi, Chief Medical Officer of Prime Hospital:

Dr Adel Al Sisi said, "Our medical staff is well equipped and is screening all patients with a runny nose, fever, cough, etc to ensure that no case goes undetected."

He added, "The emergency department is taking all precautionary measures in detecting a possible case of the coronavirus, especially since there is a potential threat. We are doing a screening on all patients and highly suspect cases - those travelled from the region - are being referred for further screenings from the Central Laboratory. So far, we have had two high susceptible cases, but further tests revealed that those were just Influenza cases."

Dr. Zia ur Rahman Shah, Senior Director - Administration, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai

There has been sufficient timely information shared from DHA and MOH regarding the Isolation, Investigation and Management of novel coronaVirus. At Zulekha Hospitals, all concerned staff are adequately trained to screen suspected cases at first contact and follow isolation protocols vigilantly as per the international standards.

Any suspected case will be immediately isolated in negative pressure room, following contact and droplet precautions. Staff at triage are provided with N95 masks, eye protection goggles, impermeable aprons and gloves. Suspected cases will be taken to isolation immediately till this condition is ruled out as per the protocol.

Zulekha Hospital has defined a process to handle such cases vigilantly with utmost care without delay.

Dr Arun Goyal, Associate Medical Director and Head of Department, Cardiac Surgery with RAK Hospital:

"We are quite equipped to handle coronavirus cases, the team of doctors at the emergency and in OPD are all trained to handle all kinds of cases concerning adults as well as children. MOH has equipped us appropriately to handle the coronovirus cases by providing training, corona virus screenings kits and proper guidelines and protocols for the treatment," said Dr Arun Goyal.

"We also have separate isolation beds for the suspected and proven cases of coronavirus. And as per the ministry guidelines for all the patients visiting the hospital- we take their last 15 days travel history to ensure preventive measures are in place. The team in our hospital is well prepared to take care of all kinds of cases," he added.

Dr Kamal Akkach, Internal Medicine Consultant at King's College Hospital London-Dubai:

"We're fully equipped to handle any coronavirus cases we receive at our hospital or medical centres; anybody comes with symptoms of coronavirus, which will be coughing, high fever, shortness of breath, and/or breathing difficulties, especially if the patient has been out of the country and arrived back in the last  two weeks," Dr Kamal Akkach told Khaleej Times.

"A notification will be sent to DHA that investigation are going on for the suspected case and we will run a Nasopharyngeal swab/lower respiratory specimen for coronavirus, and the patient will be isolated in our Dubai Hills Hospital. The entire medical team who will be dealing with this patient will be prepared with the right precautions, all the way from the gown to gloves, to masks and eye protection. We have prepared a path of identification and isolation of suspected cases," he said.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

 


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