Country at low-risk from Chinese virus, gov’t still calls emergency measures

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 27, 2020 13:57

Country at low-risk from Chinese virus, gov’t still calls emergency measures

Story Highlights

  • The Albanian Ambassador to China Selim Belortaja, through a Facebook post, made a public appeal to citizens not to visit China for business or pleasure, as the situation is critical.

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TIRANA, Jan. 27 - The most recent Coronavirus, known as the China virus, that has killed approximately 25 people so far, has reportedly not touched Albania, although measures are being taken as it continues to spread alarmingly.

The virus is, according to health experts, similar to traditional influenza, but with more severe symptoms. Previously unknown, it has caused an outbreak of respiratory infections thought to have originated in China's Wuhan region but that have quickly spread to other countries.

So far roughly 800 people have been infected - including at least a dozen medical personnel - and around 25 have died.

Spokesperson of the Albanian Public Health Institute Genta Cela said no cases infected by the virus have been identified in the country. On the other hand, respiratory infections have increased compared to a week ago.

The Albanian Ambassador to China Selim Belortaja, through a Facebook post, made a public appeal to citizens not to visit China for business or pleasure, as the situation is critical. He said the number of deaths so far don't paint a proper picture of the virus’ danger, now having spread in Europe too with the first three cases having been recorded in France.

“I strongly advise you to postpone your travel and physical contact with China until the situation is completely controlled! Please find out how best to persuade yourself before you enter a situation that is more at risk from the virus but also unexpected due to unusual controls,” he wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Albanian authorities also took the first emergency steps to limit the possibility of the virus entering the country. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection declared that Albania is a low risk country to be affected by the virus. However, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the Health Minister issued an order to take precautionary measures to protect against its penetration, although "it should be noted that, according to the WHO, conditions are still lacking on how human-to-human contact can pass it on.”

According to ministry orders physicians should strengthen surveillance of severe acute respiratory infections in cooperation with all hospitals in the country. In an interview with RTV Ora Cela explained the coronavirus symptoms are the same as those of normal influenza, but clinically much stronger.

"It is a virus similar to the flu virus, but the clinical signs are more severe and with greater complications. We have no case so far,” she said.

However, the same cannot be said for other respiratory infections. So far, about 12,000 people have been affected by these infections this year in Albania.

General Situation

In terms of the Coronavirus, the current situation is relatively benign in economic, political, and social terms—person-to-person transmission of the virus has been limited—but respiratory infections are especially prone to becoming global events. The vast majority of cases have appeared in China, though a handful have occurred also in the US, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and Singapore.

Authorities around the world have increased screening at ports of entry for travelers whose symptoms or travel history raise red flags.

Furthermore, the timing of the emergence of the virus (temporarily) called 2019-nCoV is unfortunate, as it coincides with the lunar new year, during which several hundred million observers will travel within and outside of China and Southeast Asia. And the known symptoms of the respiratory infection mirror those of other winter ailments such as the common cold and the flu, potentially complicating efforts to diagnose and contain the spread of disease.

Beijing appears to be firmly committed to addressing the latest outbreak, based on the recently announced lockdown of transit in and out of Wuhan, public transit restrictions in several nearby cities, the release of a detailed response plan, elevation of the virus's risk category to accommodate forced quarantine, a willingness to share virus samples with international researchers, and the involvement of WHO officials on the ground and at headquarters in Switzerland.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang both sent strongly worded statements to all sub-national officials to not hide any cases of the virus and instead act to coordinate the actions of different agencies and levels of government.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 27, 2020 13:57