On the Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in humans, animals, and birds. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections which are typically mild but, in rare cases, can be lethal. The virus that originated from Wuhan, China, last month, has spread around the world rather quickly. Currently, the death toll stands at 81, while approximately 2800 people have been infected. Outside mainland China, at least 13 other locations have reported cases of the virus, including France, Australia and the United States. International laboratories are actively working to find a specific treatment for the coronavirus.

While flights are being more and more limited from China, the governments of different states are evacuating their citizens from Wuhan, including those of Japan and France.

Although, as the Ministry of Health reports, Georgia is in the green “low-risk” zone for the spread of the coronavirus, safety measures have been taken at the airports, and flights canceled.

“Direct flights from China to Georgia have suspended for the time being," Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze stated on Monday.

“Today, the Ministry will discuss the cancellation of future flights from China,” she added.

A January 25 flight from China to Georgia was cancelled by the Chinese side.

The Minister noted that citizens of Georgia are advised to refrain from traveling to Asia.

"At this stage, we can only tell citizens that it is their personal responsibility whether they comply with these recommendations and refrain from traveling to Asia. We have established an Emergency Coordination Group that is working actively with international organizations. Our air traffic is under control and we receive information from all airlines operating in Georgia. Therefore, all preventive measures are being taken,” she said.

She denied information that doctors are refusing to work at the airport and check passengers via remote thermometers due to the lack of proper equipment.

“To date, there has been no refusal by any physician to do the necessary work at the airport. We, the doctors, have all taken the oath and always do our best at our own risk. At this stage, the World Health Organization has not provided specific guidelines to impose strict regulations at airports, but we are ready and responsive if necessary," she said.

Tikaradze added that the ministry has not given any recommendations to the government regarding trade restrictions.

Screening is carried out on passengers, particularly those coming from China, via thermo-screening, which means checking passengers’ temperature with a remote thermometer. If the temperature is above 38, the passenger is examined by medical personnel at the airport”.

The Ministry of Health assures citizens that the ambulance brigades working at the airport are safe themselves, since they wear c-level clothes.

The Ministry also states it is in close communication with the World Health Organization (WHO).

“There is no need for further steps at present. The crews wear special clothes. Georgia is in the green zone. We are in constant communication with the World Health Organization and if other measures are needed, of course, we will take them,” the Ministry reports.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the People's Republic of China, Archil Kalandia, said he sees no reason to panic so far.

“I am in constant contact with all three of our fellow citizens who are in Wuhan now. I talked with the officials from Wuhan municipality and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. Preventive measures are being implemented throughout China, not just in Wuhan, which is the source of the infection. In addition, the city is being provided with food and drinking water. Accordingly, the city is not facing food and water shortages. All facilities of the city are disinfected daily and the situation is under control at this stage. Obviously, the number of infected is increasing and will probably rise in February, but taking these large-scale preventive measures into consideration, local authorities are doing their best to reduce the scale and the number of infected people. In addition, through various social networks, we are in constant contact with our fellow citizens in various regions of China. Fortunately, they are healthy and safe,” said Kalandia.

Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, said that, despite the fact that the country is in the low-risk one, there is still a chance of the virus coming from China. But, he adds, Georgia is doing its best to prevent the infection. Information about the virus has been elaborated by the World Health Organization and the text is translated into three languages to be distributed for incoming tourists, especially those from China.

Four medical institutions, the Hospitals of Infectious Diseases in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Zugdidi, are ready to provide medical assistance to persons who are detected with symptoms of fever, headache, sore throat, breathing difficulties and coughing.

China announced an emergency mode on Friday as the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 830 and the death toll hit 26. The country has extended the Chinese New Year celebration to February 2, warning citizens to keep away from large family gatherings, in hopes to decrease the risks of the virus spreading. Despite the growing numbers, the World Health Organization has not declared the virus a global public health emergency.

New reports say that those carrying coronavirus might be unaware of the infection as, in some cases, the symptoms show late. It may also be too soon to tell whether the efforts of international society will be enough to prevent and defeat the fast spreading virus. The effects of coronavirus on the global economy can be seen already, however, as, according to CNN, large international companies, major shops, restaurants and tourist destinations are shutting their doors in China, among them Disney, Starbucks, KFC, and McDonald’s.

“With over 57 million people in 15 cities across China on lockdown, the crisis is hitting the retail, travel and tourism industries particularly hard during the peak Lunar New Year season,” writes CNN.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

Image source: Bustle.com

27 January 2020 18:43