COVID-19 update 14 Feb: One Kerala patient discharged from hospital, WHO holds press briefing and more
Around 1,400 people had succumbed to the COVID-19 viral infection in China as of Friday afternoon. The total number of cases worldwide has jumped to 65,000.
Around 1,400 people had succumbed to the COVID-19 viral infection in China as of Friday afternoon. The total number of cases worldwide has also jumped to 65,000.
The spike is partly explained by the fact that doctors in Hubei — where Wuhan is located — have started using CT scans of lungs to diagnose new cases. This diagnostic technique looks for any unexplained lesions or abnormalities in the lungs, in addition to symptoms of an upper respiratory disease like coughing, to confirm a COVID infection.
Notably, the third death outside mainland China was reported from Japan. A woman in her 80’s lost her life after getting admitted to a hospital earlier in February. Coronavirus was confirmed posthumously.
Of the 121 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, 116 were in the Hubei province of China, where the infection is said to have started.
WHO press briefing
In a press briefing on Thursday, Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said that the recent spikes in infections and deaths are due to the change in diagnostic method in Hubei. CT scans that show abnormalities in the lungs are now being considered confirmed cases as this allows “clinicians to move and report cases more quickly, not having to wait for lab confirmation, ensuring that people get to clinical care more quickly”. This means that cases are being retrospectively added to the confirmed list as well. The increase in numbers shouldn’t be seen as a sudden surge in the virulence of the disease.
Further, the new diagnostic method will only be used in Hubei province to report cases and deaths. Outside China, 447 cases have been reported in 24 countries.
“The number of countries reporting cases has still not changed and outside the cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, we’re not seeing a dramatic increase in transmission outside China,” Dr Ryan said.
The expert WHO committee that arrived in Beijing earlier this week has reportedly finalized their plan of action and more experts will be arriving this weekend.
Quarantining in China and beyond
Cell phone carriers in China, all three of which are run by the government, released a new feature that allows users to text their movements and travel to neighbouring provinces in the recent past. This is a part of a continuing effort to minimize the transmission of the disease.
The Chinese government is also reportedly stepping up screening and containing efforts outside Wuhan. Health officials are trying to identify anyone displaying symptoms and rushing them to detainment facilities. There have been reports of family members being forcefully separated and poor, mismanaged conditions in detention facilities.
In Vietnam, an area just north of the capital city Hanoi called the Son Loi farming has been quarantined after six cases were confirmed there. More than 10,000 people have been affected by the lockdown and this represents the largest COVID-19 related quarantine outside China thus far.
On Indian shores
There are still only three confirmed cases in the country, all of them in Kerala. According to the state health department, all three are recovering well - one of the patients has even been discharged from the Alappuzha Medical College hospital.
This week, two suspected cases were flagged in Kolkata and one in Delhi as they were screened at the airport following international travel. The travellers have been taken to health facilities where they will undergo testing and treatments. No confirmation or clearances have been issued yet.
In total, over 16,000 people are under surveillance in the country to contain transmission.
What to do and what not to do to prevent infection
Health experts have come out to say that misinformation about the virus and its spread has the potential to do more harm than good. So, if you have a question or if you are experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, cold, cough, fever and diarrhoea, it is a good idea to call the Indian government helpline number (+91-11-23978046).
Experts have also pointed out that masks are only helpful once someone has already contracted the virus - as this prevents the transmission of the virus to the patient's family and caregivers.
The best way to avoid infection is by maintaining great personal hygiene, by washing your hands frequently, sneezing or coughing into the crook of your arm and avoiding touching your face as much as possible.
For more information, read our article on Coronavirus: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment.
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