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UPDATE-MoH reassures the public on China virus outbreak, issues travel instructions

January 23, 2020 at 3:23pm

The Ministry of Health was reassuring regarding the China coronavirus outbreak following a meeting on Thursday morning at the Ministry of Health.

Head of the Medical and Public Health Services Department of the Ministry of Health, Elisavet Konstantinou, told the Cyprus News Agency that the Ministry is en garde to adapt to new developments should the World Health Organisation or other international health authority issue a new directive.

Konstantinou said that at today’s meeting, participants examined the epidemiological data on the virus circulated by the competent international authorities.

The virus, she added, is transmitted from person to person and does not appear to be highly infectious. Its symptoms range from the common cold to very serious respiratory infections, i.e. pneumonia. The mortality rate of the virus was described as low.

She mentioned that they also assessed the risk of the virus being ‘imported’ to Cyprus, rating this risk as low.

The Ministry is closely monitoring the issue and is preparing an information campaign with instructions to the public, she added, while remaining in constant communication with competent authorities both locally and internationally to be ready to adapt their policy as required.

As regards travel, the World Health Organisation has not announced any travel restrictions to the affected areas in China but has issued a warning to people travelling there to be particularly careful and follow hygiene rules.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign affairs is closely monitoring the situation to take appropriate measures regarding travel restrictions if it becomes necessary.

The Chinese city of Wuhan is considered to be the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, but according to Reuters, incidents have also been reported in other major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and in many other countries including the USA.

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE PUBLIC AND TRAVELLERS

The Ministry of Health has circulated a press release to inform the public and travellers on the virus.

As per the announcement, coronavirus was identified by Chinese authorities on January 22, by which time 448 verified incidents and nine deaths had been recorded, while more cases were reported in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the USA.

To be suspected of infection by the virus, an individual needs to have travelled in Wuhan, China, or to have come into contact with verified infected persons and developed symptoms from the date of return and up to 14 days from the day of return.

For the time being, there will be no checks at arrivals in airports that have no direct flights to China, like Cyprus.

In the case where travel to Wuhan cannot be avoided, the Ministry recommends the following for the duration of the trip:

  • Keep up with updates of the situation in the area and follow sanitary instructions of the local public health services
  • Avoid contact with animals (dead or alive)
  • Avoid buying animals or animal products (like raw meat)
  • Avoid contact with patients, especially ones with fever, cough, or trouble breathing
  • Wash hands often for minimum 20 seconds using hot water and soap. If not available, use an antiseptic containing alcohol
  • Monitor own health condition and seek medical assistance if symptoms emerge, and avoid travel
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or own sleeve (not with hands) when coughing or sneezing. When using a tissue, dispose of it immediately and wash hands

If returning from a trip to Wuhan, the following is recommended:

  • If symptoms are observed from the date of return and up to 14 days later, stay at home and seek medical assistance immediately mentioning the trip to your doctor
  • Avoid contact with other people
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or own sleeve (not with hands) when coughing or sneezing. When using a tissue, dispose of it immediately and wash hands

The Ministry of Health will inform the public of any further updates received by the WHO or ECDC.

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