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Opinion and Editorial

The Wuhan virus: Let's be alert and wary, not paranoid

Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's desk)
Filed on January 23, 2020 | Last updated on January 23, 2020 at 06.00 am
The Wuhan virus: Lets be alert and wary, not paranoid


The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention has been closely following up on the latest updates about the virus.

A colleague of mine, a very senior newsroom hand, has been sick at home all week long. Let me, for the purpose of this article, ignore the fact that his sickness followed a couple of weeks of annual vacations and threw the plans of his other teammates out of the window (and that too while it was raining). Anyway, so he is sick with flu-like symptoms and so is the rest of his family (his wife, who  lives with him here, and his two kids who happen to be visiting him from overseas where they're employed).

To be fair, he joined back on Saturday (the start of his five-day workweek) before calling in sick on Sunday. Team members who were in at work on Saturday vouch for the fact that his cough was quite bad (someone said loud and hacking, someone else described it as irritating). And he's been out since then, with doctors prescribing whatever it is that they have to so he and his family get well. The doc has told him, categorically and after the required tests, I assume, that it isn't influenza. "Nobody knows what it is," he told me in a WhatsApp message. And then, after a pregnant pause, sent another message: "My son reminded me of something. We spent half a day in the mall."

Wait, what? Let's hold our horses, guys. With 500 (and counting) individuals worldwide (zero in the UAE) who've contracted the novel strain of the Wuhan coronavirus - and 17 deaths - there is cause for concern, especially now that the peculiarly named 2019-nCoV virus is known to spread from human to human, and has crossed borders, with cases being reported in the US, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan (besides, of course, China).

But let's be rational, not presumptuous. The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention has been closely following up on the latest updates about the virus, and has clearly stated that no case of the novel coronavirus has been reported in the country so far. The latest outbreak has, indeed, revived memories of the Sars virus which killed many in 2000. My colleague and his family, who were in Singapore around then and saw the damage first-hand, can be forgiven for being anxious. But let's be alert, not paranoid.



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