High alert over coronavirus

Monday February 3 2020

virus

A worker from a cleaning and disinfection service sprays disinfectant in a train as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the virus at Suseo railway station in Seoul on January 24, 2020. PHOTO | HONG YOON-GI | AFP  

ARAFAT MUGABO
By ARAFAT MUGABO
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Rwanda has moved to strengthen its surveillance against the possibility of the Coronavirus that has caused panic across the globe after wreaking havoc in China.

As the fast-spreading infection prompted China authorities to quarantine several major cities and cancel Lunar New Year’s events in Beijing, Rwanda has advised its citizens not to travel to affected areas.

“We are certain there are no Rwandan citizens in Wuhan city but we advise those traveling to other parts of China where there are chances of contracting the virus to follow protective measures and do the screening as they turn into the country,” said Dr Diane Gashumba, Minister for Health in Rwanda.

Dr Gashumba said Rwanda is closely working with the WHO to be prepared and keep strengthening surveillance for pneumonia. The country and Africa at large has not yet been touched by the disease.

The minister for said their have been multiple meetings with airlines and Private Sector Federation PSF to remain vigilant as they travel to countries where the virus cases have been detected.

“We have requested airlines in the country to advise and educate their passengers on the virus prevention measures as they also provide them with safety materials like face masks to those who may want them,” said The minister further said with direct flights between China and Rwanda as well as other contacts in the form of tourism and business, the ministry is looking at strengthening its vigilance while training tour guides and travel operators on how to detect and provide support to people that could be suspected to have signs of the virus.

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According to the National Health Commission, cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of January 23 had gone up to 830 from 571 in one day, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 26 from 17.

Travellers were urged to stay healthy while travelling since there has not been an actual treatment provided to the suspected cases rather than improvising with empiric antimicrobials.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said it has developed a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test that can diagnose the disease.

Talking to Rwanda Today, Dr Kasonde Mwinga, WHO country representative, said there is no reliable diagnosis or treatment for the virus but scientists are working hard to come up with the solution.

Dr Mwinga urged Rwandan health practitioners to follow the interim guideline in times of suspected cases to recognise and sort patients with a severe acute respiratory infection to immediately implement appropriate infection prevention and control measures.

Since there is no African based laboratory for the testing of the virus in the suspected case, Dr. Mwinga said specimens should be collected and sent to sample laboratories in China.

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