A vaccination of truth

The rapid escalation of the N-Coronavirus has put fear in the hearts of people thousands of miles from Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic. At the time of writing, over 34,000 have been infected globally and over 700 have died while nearly 6,200 are in critical condition. Given the time-frame of the development – just over 60 days – this is scary indeed.

In Bahrain, things were so dire that at one point a major consumer fair issued a press release saying that the NHRA had given it the all-clear and visitors could rest assured and come for their usual retail therapy. Similarly, a Bahrain mall dedicated to all things Chinese faced a slump in business after the pandemic broke.

However, the might of modern medicine is being pressed into action and with intensive screening, correct quarantine measures and awareness, Bahrain is doing all it can to stay ahead of the Coronavirus curve.

In the midst of the panic which has merged with urban myth and rumour mongering to fuel conspiracy theories and centuries-old Nostradamus-style predictions, some sensible voices are struggling to be heard.

Chinese authorities have pointed out that the nationwide mortality rate from the disease have hovered in the 2.1-2.5 per cent range as of February 3. Compare that, if you will, to deaths in 2018 from malaria. 228 million people contracted malaria globally that year and 405,000 perished.

In 2016, water, sanitation and hygiene was responsible for 829 000 annual deaths from diarrhoea, and 1.9 per cent of the global burden of disease. Aren’t these statistics more worrisome?

I am not saying a pandemic galloping across the globe is not fearsome. I was at the Bahrain airport recently and so many people were wearing masks – but experts tell me that the ordinary surgical masks are no protection against the N-Coronavirus.

For that you need a special N95 respirator mask which filter out most airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in diameter.

For the average person, wearing a mask is not as effective as everyday measures like hand-washing and avoiding close contact with anyone who might be infected. That means we must also be sensible about visiting patients in hospitals and exposing them as well as ourselves to any germs.

But the most important thing we can do is not spread scary rumours and vitiate the situation. That is the best vaccination against panic and the first step to recovery!

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