Covid-19, sneaky sniper

Published in Notices

The novel coronavirus named Covid-19 has ravaged the world. Being new, its spread has been swift and fierce, in the absence of a vaccine or known effective treatment measures.

Covid-19 situation, 2nd April 2020. Covid-19 situation, 2nd April 2020. Source: Croatian Government Webpage: www.koronavirus.hr

The illness was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Office in China on 31st December 2019, as an epidemic of unexplained respiratory infections affecting Wuhan in the Hubei region of China. By the end of March 2020, the newly named Covid-19 coronavirus had spread all round the world.

In Croatia, the situation since the first cases were diagnosed towards the end of February 2020 has been well controlled by public measures designed to limit the virus' spread. The Croatian strategies, ably led by Health Minister Dr. Vili Beroš and his team of experts, have been classified amongst the most stringent in the world in a study 'Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker' by the University of Oxford, England. The leadership provided in halting the spread of the disease has been widely praised in Croatia, especially by those who are aware of contrasting situations in other countries, including their own.

There is an enormous amount of information available about Covid-19 on the internet. Not all of it is to be trusted. For official information, news and advice about the crisis at a global level, the World Health Organisation has a dedicated section on its website, while in Croatia the official Government website www.koronavirus.hr provides daily updates on the situation around the country, with the main information translated into English. A scientific, referenced overview of the origins and spread of Covid-19 is provided in 'Features, evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (Covid-19)' by M. Cascella, M. Rajnik, A. Cuomo, S.C. Dulebohn, R. Di Napoli.

The spread of Covid-19 in Croatia has been relatively slow compared to some other countries. Yet there has been an inexorable upward trend in the figures since the end of February. As at April 2nd 2020, there were 1,011 people diagnosed as infected; 7 people had died; and 88 had recovered. While these figures are relatively reassuring, there is no room for complacency. There's no need to panic: the measures introduced by the Croatian Government's expert team are certainly working.

But it's worrying to see that there are some citizens who don't observe the restrictions, some who feel that the measures are an over-reaction. Until there are no more cases in Croatia and the rest of the world, and until there is a vaccine and a recognizable effective treatment protocol, the problem will not be over. Covid-19 is like a sniper lurking undetected, ready to strike at any time - especially if we fail to take all reasonable precautions. The reasonable precautions are straightforward:

1. Observe social distancing

2. Stay at home, go out only for vital duties or chores; do not go visiting without due cause, do not receive unnecessary visitors

3. Respect the rules of self-isolation and quarantine

4. Take care of your immune system: smokers in particular should stop, especially if they are holed up with children and non-smokers; avoid drinking excessive alcohol; eat a healthy diet, avoid convenience foods; drink plain water regularly

5. Keep clean, good hygiene is our best friend: wash your hands frequently, and don't neglect the rest of your body, your clothing and your personal environment

6. Don't go out at all if you develop symptoms: self-isolate, preferably rest in bed, and seek medical advice by telephone; avoid all mental and physical activities, they'll most likely be too exhausting. The first symptoms can be deceptively mild, such as a sore throat or a slight cough, but if you ignore them, you probably risk making the illness worse, and you certainly risk infecting others.

7. Keep up to date with the latest guidelines from the local and national authorities.

8. Behave with due care and consideration towards others. If you can't help them, at least don't jeopardize their health!

Covid-19 is a 'hidden enemy' which should be respected, but not feared. The crisis will certainly pass, all the more quickly if we all do our best to follow the guidelines. The precautions may seem strict in a society used to high levels of freedom of action, but they are for our own good! Remember that any or even all of us might be infected to some degree with this all-pervasive virus, carriers without knowing it. The more interpersonal contacts we have, the greater the risk of the infection spreading. So please don't look for the restrictions to be relaxed until the sneaky sniper has been eliminated and we are well out of the woods.

April 2nd 2020

 

 

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