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Coronavirus Pandemic

Is coronavirus fatal? UAE doctors clarify

Dhanusha Gokulan/Dubai
Filed on February 2, 2020 | Last updated on February 8, 2020 at 11.33 am
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(KT file)

nCoV has much lesser virulence as compared to other coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS.

As the UAE confirms its first cases of novel coronavirus (nCoV) patients, doctors called for calm - stressing that the probability of a healthy person dying from the virus is "slim to zero".

It is not a "strong virus", said Dr Maan Jamal, a consultant pulmonologist at Emirates Hospital Jumeirah. "But experts fear it might spread fast and no one has any immunity against it."

In terms of severity, "nCoV has much lesser virulence as compared to other coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS. However, because it is new, it has some bad consequences", he added.

"We know very little about it. Though the coronavirus has been around since the '60s, nCOV is new. We are facing a new genome."

Based on the figures available around the nCoV outbreak, about 2.2 per cent of those with confirmed cases have died. SARS, on the other hand, had a fatality rate of 9.6 per cent.

And now, many nCoV patients are recovering. Chinese authorities recently said some 243 patients have been discharged from hospitals in China.

"Patients can be removed from quarantine and discharged from hospitals once symptoms are alleviated," explained Dr Jamal.

To further put the situation in perspective, an Emirati internal specialist compared nCoV with seasonal influenza.

Dr Omar Al Hammadi said: "Seasonal influenza is more common than the nCoV. And in a healthy person, both diseases are self-resolving."

Worldwide, seasonal influenza epidemics have caused three to five million severe cases every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In the case of nCoV, "more complications are noted among older people and patients with pre-existing conditions", said Dr Al Hammadi.

Dr Jamal added: "Patients with chronic lung diseases, diabetes, and other conditions can get infections from both nCoV and seasonal influenza".

Dr Subramanian Meyyappan, an internal medicine consultant at Burjeel Speciality Hospital, said: "The percentage of people who are dying from the disease - the vulnerable population - is a very small portion of the infected. Like any virus, this, too, has to run its course."

Doctors advised all individuals to take necessary precautions.

'No, virus will NOT spread via packages from China'

Like any virus, the novel coronavirus (nCoV) needs a human host, doctors explained.

"Once you isolate infected persons, it ensures that it will not transmit to anyone else," explained Dr Maan Jamal, a consultant pulmonologist at Emirates Hospital Jumeirah.

This is why he said all talks about the virus spreading through packages from China must be dismissed.

"When exposed to an outside environment, the virus dies. Packages from China take four to five days to get here," Dr Jamal said.

"People need to use science and some logic to tackle this disease."

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