‘It’s not like flu’: Doctor’s warning to those underestimating coronavirus

Do not underestimate coronavirus
As the virus continues to spread in more countries, Professor Ian Mackay, virologist and associate professor at the University of Queensland, has warned the virus must not be underestimated.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, he said many people he comes across daily refer to coronavirus as “just another flu” without seeing it as a “big risk”.

“It’s hard to stress how bad this could be if we don’t take it seriously.”

He noted how “advanced” medical teams in countries where the outbreak has soared have been forced to make the decision on whether patients live or die due to a lack of beds or staff to cope with “the sheer overwhelming number of sick people”.

Italy’s health system has been pushed to its limit as a result of the outbreak (Reuters)
Italy’s health system has been pushed to its limit as a result of the outbreak (Reuters)
“We’re seeing the virus spread and cause a lot of severe disease and while it’s not death, it’s still severe disease and it’s tying up a lot of healthcare resources. That’s not what we see every year from flu,” he said.

In recent days Italian media has broadcast footage of ICU units overflowing with patients, with the current situation labelled by Prof Mackay as a “cautionary tale”.

Weeks before, the plight of medical teams in the Chinese province of Hubei, the original epicentre of the virus, was widely documented as staff worked day and night in their fight against the outbreak.

‘This virus is not influenza’
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus specifically warned the coronavirus outbreak shouldn’t be compared to the flu.

“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics,” he said.

Tedros reiterated that Covid-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reiterated the effects of coronavirus are more severe than the flu (AP)
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reiterated the effects of coronavirus are more severe than the flu (AP)
“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, Covid-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity,” he said.

“That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.”

He noted the current global mortality rate sits at 3.4% while seasonal flus sit at less than 1%.

Tedros praised the work of countries working to contain the virus, such as Australia where a cluster of cases has occurred in Sydney’s northwest.

“We don’t even talk about containment for seasonal flu – it’s just not possible. But it is possible for Covid-19,” he said.

“It will prevent infections and save lives. Containment is possible.”

In a report on coronavirus issued by WHO in February, treating the virus as the flu will only cause further deaths.

“Building scenarios and strategies only on the basis of well-known pathogens risks failing to exploit all possible measures to slow transmission of the Covid-19 virus, reduce disease and save lives,” the report said.
Tom FlanaganNews Reporter
Yahoo News UK


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