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March 18, 2020

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Medical expert: COVID-19 preventable

A top medical expert from Shanghai reassured the public on Monday that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be prevented, provided effective measures are in place.

“The disease can really be prevented,” said Zhang Wenhong, head of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital. “If someone does well in keeping a safe distance in social activities, washing hands and wearing a mask, the risk of getting infected is very low.”

He was addressing overseas Chinese communities in Italy, France, Malaysia, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, through a live video talk on Monday. There have been reports lately about some overseas Chinese, mainly Chinese studying or working overseas, returning to China amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, as Xinmin Evening News reported on Monday, many Chinese students abroad are wondering whether or not to come back to China at this time. Doctor Zhang’s candid conversation came as a timely response to the question.

“Many friends have asked me whether their children should come back,” he said. “I said you should consider two things in any case: First, how long does it take to curb the virus? What if it extends half a year? Secondly, what shall I do if I stay put and don’t return to China?”

Voice of reason

In the second case, he said, what one should do is to take effective measures as explained above to protect himself or herself. He also suggested overseas Chinese should ask relevant authorities in Italy to beef up the construction of facilities for treatment in isolation.

While saying China has accumulated experiences in this regard, he acknowledged that situations vary from country to country.

Zhang’s remark could not be more timely. It was based on his professional analysis that should dispel undue worries. The more such voice of reason we hear, the better we can protect ourselves and our friends from needless panic.

And Zhang is not alone. Dr Sydnee McElroy, an expert on the world’s medical history, said recently that COVID-19 is not a pandemic mystery. It’s simply a new coronavirus that’s being studied by scientists. The best advice for the near future, she said, is still to wash your hands often, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

With enough preparation and prevention, there’s no cause for panic.


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