Bali Travelers & Expats, Be Wise as the Coronavirus Arise

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

The mortality rate of coronavirus is around 2% in the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province, and less than that elsewhere. For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1% and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10%. Another key unknown is how contagious the coronavirus is.

A crucial difference is that unlike flu, there is no vaccine for the new coronavirus, which means it is more difficult for vulnerable members of the population – elderly people or those with existing respiratory or immune problems – to protect themselves. Hand-washing and avoiding other people if you feel unwell are important. One sensible step is to get the flu vaccine, which will reduce the burden on health services if the outbreak turns into a wider epidemic.

There is no specific treatment yet for this disease, so healthcare providers treat the clinical symptoms (e.g. fever, difficulty breathing) of patients. Supportive care (e.g. fluid management, oxygen therapy, etc.) can be highly effective for patients with symptoms. Current advice for testing depends on the stage of the outbreak in the country or area where you live.

Countries might be at different stages of the epidemic, and the approach to testing may differ according to country policy. This is adapted to the situation at local and national level. If you live in a country or area where there has been no or very limited transmission, ECDC advice is that you should be tested if you have: Acute respiratory tract infection (sudden onset of at least one of the following: cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND with no other no other cause that fully explains your illness AND with a history of travel or residence in a country/area reporting local or community transmission* during the 14 days prior to symptom onset; Any acute respiratory illness AND having been in close contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case in the last 14 days prior to onset of symptoms; Severe acute respiratory infection (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease (e.g., cough, fever, shortness breath)) AND requiring hospitalization AND doctors can find no other cause that fully explains your illness.

As the coronavirus spreads, something else is going viral: misinformation about it online, and it’s threatening to make a bad situation worse. Now, the World Health Organization is teaming up with social media firms to do something about it.

It’s not just COVID19 – better known as the novel coronavirus – that’s spreading fast. There is a flow of misinformation online about the virus, which health officials are calling an “infodemic” and they are mounting a concerted effort to combat it. Please do not trust any information when it comes from unknown resources and if you think that the information is not make sense.

In Indonesia, according to the ministry, the hoaxes include false information that some patients in Indonesia had died after being infected by the coronavirus, despite the fact that the archipelago has yet to confirm any cases to date. Other misinformation, such as the notion that drinking boiled garlic water can cure the coronavirus, had also spread on social media, prompting health authorities to reassert that no vaccines or medicines have been developed as of yet.

“Please don’t immediately forward information that is still not verified yet,” Communications and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate advised the public during a press conference on Monday. The ministry had taken steps to fight against the spread of misinformation by blocking internet content that disseminated the hoaxes, Antara reported. The ministry also regularly submits posts that counter hoaxes on its website kominfo.go.id. Johnny said it was currently mulling over sending information to smartphone users through text messages in SMS blasts to alert the public about avoiding dubious sources.

The ministry’s director general of information applications, Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan, said the government in cooperation with the police would take stern action against those who disseminated false information.

Among the most concerning items of disinformation regard anti-China sentiment targeting the Chinese, including Indonesians of Chinese descent, such as the warning to throw away China-made Xiaomi phones, avoid using Chinese products or receiving packages from China and staying away from Chinese people as they can transmit the disease.

Another hoax is a Facebook post calling the coronavirus a weapon developed by the Chinese Communist regime to eradicate Muslims. These hoaxes only add to the long history of prejudice against the Chinese in Indonesia. The misinformation on social media was also due to the absence of an official source of information that distributed updates on the coronavirus periodically. “Sometimes the media is not enough. The Singapore government, for example, has made an official WhatsApp account to disseminate updates on the coronavirus.”

The minister called on people to stop spreading the hoaxes. “Please don’t immediately forward any posts and messages about the coronavirus that is not verified yet,” he said. He added that the hoax spread could negatively affect Indonesian tourism and the economy. The government has declared a ban on all travel to and from mainland China by suspending visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese citizens, to prevent the spread of the virus. This is likely to reduce the number of Chinese tourists coming to Indonesia. From December 2019 to January, around 10,000 tourists from China canceled trips to Bali.

We should not be panic about the coronavirus spread. WHO already declared that this disease is not a pandemic disease. A pandemic, in WHO terms, is “the worldwide spread of a disease”. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern. The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people, and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital. Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact. Generally, the coronavirus appears to be hitting older people hardest, with few cases in children.

Now, what we really should do to protect ourselves from Coronavirus? You can start with wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Please avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

The use of face mask can offer some protection as they block liquid droplets. However, they do not block smaller aerosol particles that can pass through the material of the mask. Seek early medical help by phone if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers.

If you have returned from an affected area in China, Iran, South Korea or Italy in the last two weeks, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This means not going to work, school or public areas. If you have returned from an infected area and develop a high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a doctor.

There are currently no vaccines against human coronaviruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19. This is why it is very important to prevent infection and to contain further spread of the virus. The development of vaccines takes time. Several pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccine candidates.

It will, however, take months or years before any vaccine can be widely used, as it needs to undergo extensive testing to determine its safety and efficacy. Influenza and the virus that causes COVID-19 are two very different viruses and the seasonal influenza vaccine will not protect against COVID-19.  Since there is no vaccine yet for coronavirus, we suggest you to take vitamin and immune booster to also protect yourself from getting coronavirus because your immunity play the big role in this case.

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