Be scared and prepared

Flu is no longer a seasonal ailment that only infects us during cold or wet season. With the growing virulence of microbes such as viruses and bacteria and porous borders because of easy travel and access, diseases of all sorts from various origins spread exponentially at very fast rates.

This is the reason why we have to be scared and be prepared for this mysterious pneumonia-like disease that infected 59 people so far in China.

Ilonggos cannot be in their usual lackadaisical nature in the face of this threat as we already have direct flights from Hong Kong.

According to multiple reports, particularly by ABS-CBN, the infection was first reported last week in Wuhan, a central Chinese city with a population of over 11 million, leading to speculations about the resurgence of the highly contagious SARS virus that killed hundreds more than a decade ago.

China had said the outbreak was not the flu-like virus SARS. The Wuhan police also said they punished 8 people for “publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification.”

The symptoms reported in patients were mainly fever, with a few patients having difficulty in breathing and chest radiographs showing invasive lesions on both lungs.

Seven of the 59 patients are seriously ill but that none have died, the Wuhan health commission said. All are being treated in quarantine.

The World Health Organization had said the concentration of cases should be handled “prudently,” adding that it was against imposing any travel or trade restrictions on China.

SARS killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong in 2003.

The virus, which infected more than 8,000 people around the world, is believed to have originated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, according to WHO.

The first line of defense is prevention. The health department advised travellers to avoid crowded places, wear a face mask, and wash their hands frequently. Cleanliness and common sense are the first and strongest measures we can adopt to avoid a pandemic.

The Department of Health already imposed stricter checks on passengers from China at various airports, including Iloilo.

Let us recall images of local hospitals overflowing with dengue patients in middle of 2019. It was an infection that was pretty much predictable and even preventable but our health facilities and workers were overwhelmed despite the much-ballyhooed upgrades of selected hospitals.

Imagine what will happen if this mysterious disease from China reaches our province. We might just see bodies pile up in hospital grounds if we don’t run scared and be prepared.