Controlling coronavirus is in our hands: UAE expert
The UAE has been described as one of the most safest places in regards to containing the spread of coronavirus.
Published: Mon 30 Mar 2020, 4:00 PM
Last updated: Mon 30 Mar 2020, 6:42 PM
Controlling the spread of coronavirus infection is possible and it is mainly "in our hands", a UAE university professor has said.
"We are in a challenging health situation that requires a lot of patience and preparedness because no one knows when it will end. It might take months to contain Covid-19, but together, we can fight and overcome this pandemic by adhering to all precautionary measures put in place by doctors and health authorities," pointed out Dr Juan Acuna, chair, department of epidemiology and public health assistant, dean for research and associate professor OBGYN, genetics and epidemiology at Khalifa University-College of Medicine and Health Sciences.
"Containing Covid-19 is mainly achieved by avoidance of sneezing and coughing in open, public places without obstruction of the mouth and nose (with the sleeve or hand), without protection (such as a mask) and by avoiding physical contact with infected or contaminated subjects or with surfaces contacted by those contaminated or infected." He added: "Social isolation is an effective measure for containing the pandemic."
Acua made the comments during his discussion in a virtual seminar on coronavirus which was organised by Khalifa University on Monday.
He said the UAE has been described as one of the most safest places in regards to containing the spread of coronavirus because of the government's swift response to implementing precautionary measures to control the pandamic as soon as it emerged.
"Compared to other countries, the situation in the UAE is very good and one of the best in the world because authorities acted very fast and effectively to contain the spread of coronavirus. The number of cases in UAE is relativley small compared to other nations and the rate of the spread of the virus is very low," said Acua, adding that it was very difficult for nations to predict the peak of the coronavirus and how many tests they will conduct or infected persons they will be having.
How coronavirus spreads
Covid-19 originated in China and has spread out globally through travellers, but cases then quickly appeared at each site from people locally contaminated.
Acua explained that coronaviruses produce frequent, mild respiratory infections in humans and are frequently found in avian and mammalian species, with similar characteristics, although it is commonly known that animals do not transmit the disease to humans.
"Because the virus is new to humans (thus the term 'novel'), the immune system is not prepared to fight it and the infection is likely in all humans. The target population is everyone," said the medical expert.
He underlined that the virus is transmitted by respiratory aerial transmission (sneezing, coughing, through droplets) and/or by direct contact between contaminated or infected subjects or surfaces and healthy subjects. Its incubation period is 4-15 days with a relatively long (several days) pre-symptomatic period, he added.
"When a person gets Covid-19, the viruses invade the lungs and take away the oxygen. They produce a very bad condition in the lungs, thereby affecting other body parts," he said.
According to Acua, research has estimated that the number of people a coronavirus carrier can infect could be three or more and that these new infected persons can then spread the virus to many more. "And within their circles, hundreds of people can get infected especially through gatherings in just a short period," he said, adding that it was good for those quarantined after getting into contact with an infected person to stay in isolation for more than 14 days to ensure that they are really free from the virus at it can show up in late stages.
Currently, there is no proven treatment available to control the virus and the current recommendation is to not give any medication for the purpose of "killing" the virus, according to the expert. "Many trials are now underway and everyone should wait until the results are discussed and implemented," said Acua.
"Respirators are crucial in the management of those seriously ill as the main damage is respiratory in the very small airways and alveoli."
The curve of the pandemic has been slowed down in many countries, but still, many more cases will happen. "As we slow down the pandemic, it will take time until systems may return to normal," said Acua.