Prevention is certainly better than cure

With everyone on alert over the possible spread of coronavirus, it does not hurt to take that extra precaution

Pic by AFP

HOSPITALS are the hotbed for communicable diseases — any doctor will tell you that.

If you happen to visit a friend who is admitted for a certain illness, just be reminded that your chances of bringing something else home is rather high.

If you sit long enough in the waiting area, you would be exposed to all sorts of germs and viruses that might be spread by other patients who might pass by the same space.

More often than not, the bugs that might be flying around at the health centres could also mutate.

For instance, an elderly patient who is waiting to be admitted after he had a stroke, might end up contracting a flu virus that is unique to the hospital that could lead to other complications such as pneumonia and other respiratory complications.

Now, you might have been reminded not to bring your children to the hospital during visiting hours too, for obvious reasons.

Alas, our people are sometimes a little dense when it comes to following simple instructions.

With everyone on alert over the possible spread of coronavirus, which is currently making world headlines, it does not hurt to take that extra precaution.

After all, those who had experienced a similar situation some 10 years ago during the H1N1 scare would tell you how fastidious the health department was in containing the disease from spreading to unsuspecting victims.

The standard operating procedure (SOP) was clear, simple and rather straightforward.

If you had the symptoms that were similar to H1N1, all you needed to do was to go straight to the designated government hospitals and clinics to be tested immediately.

If you have it, you would be notified the next morning before being transported to the nearest government hospital that had been chosen to treat patients who were tested positive for H1N1.

At that point, all the private hospitals would tell you that they could not test or treat you and that it could only be done at the government’s facilities.

Those who were tested positive will immediately be quarantined at an isolated building which certainly reduced any contact with the outside world.

Those who were quarantined would have to stay for three weeks for observations and treatments. Once they were virus-free, they’d be released.

Since there was no real cure for H1N1 during its outbreak, those who were infected would have to rely much on their immune system (and prayers) to be rid of the disease.

The patients would also be interviewed by the medical personnel on their whereabouts and people they were in touch with prior to being diagnosed.

For instance, if they just got back from a foreign land, the medical personnel would ask for their flight or travel itinerary.

If a certain patient just flew in, the personnel would ask for the flight details including the exact seat number so that it would be easier to track and test others who might have contracted the virus.

With such SOP, the people would also be assured that any contagion could be controlled and the possibility of an outbreak is minimised.

Having everything recorded is also pertinent, as the data could be shared with the public as a way to pacify those who have the tendency to press the panic button.

As we speak, the naysayers and harbinger of doom are happily sharing gruesome stories and pictures that are related to Wuhan, China or the dreaded coronavirus that might be plucked randomly from the Internet.

Some of the news piece are legit while quite a number seem to be exaggerated fictions.

Still, it is rather tricky to sift through the information and determine which is true and which is false.

By now, you might have come across videos of people slurping “bat soup” or chomping into lizards and frogs and all sorts of creepy crawlies that have been named as among the possible origins of the virus.

There are also scary videos of “patients” who have allegedly contracted the virus in Wuhan.

For all you know, the videos and pictures are not even related to the disease as people tend to get creative when they want to make a point.

Well, hopefully, the good people at the Health Ministry would continue to update us on the latest as well as steps that could be taken to avoid the disease.

In the meantime, just keep those masks on…


Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor of The Malaysian Reserve.