Bulgaria advises nationals travelling abroad to take precautions against coronavirus

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry issued a call on January 23 to citizens travelling internationally, especially to at-risk destinations, to take precautions against coronavirus.

The ministry cited World Health Organization data that as of January 21, there were a total of 314 confirmed cases on new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) worldwide, including 309 in China, two in Thailand, one in Japan and one in the Republic of Korea.

Two hundred and seventy of the cases in China were registered in Wuhan, Hubei Province, the settlement from which the epidemic was thought to have started, with 51 people severely ill and two in critical condition. Six deaths have been reported in Wuhan.

In order to limit the spread of the epidemic, on January 1 the seafood market in Wuhan, which is considered to be a site of an outbreak, was closed by local authorities. As January 23, entry and exit from the city is prohibited, including for foreign nationals, airports are closed, and urban transport is not functioning.

The Foreign Ministry advised Bulgarian nationals to take precautions including avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections; frequent washing of hands, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment; avoiding close contact with live or dead farm and wild animals. The said that travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (keep their distance, cover their nose and mouth with disposable tissues or towels when coughing or sneezing, and wash their hands).

“In the case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness before, during or after the trip, we encourage travelers to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their healthcare provider.”

Based on the information currently available, the WHO was not currently recommending a restriction on travel or trade, the ministry said.

If in need of assistance, Bulgarian citizens could contact the embassies in the region by phone, including those in Beijing, Jakarta, Tokyo and Seoul.

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

On December 31 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.

A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on January 7.

On January 10, WHO published a range of interim guidance for all countries on how they can prepare for this virus, including how to monitor for sick people, test samples, treat patients, control infection in health centres, maintain the right supplies, and communicate with the public about this new virus.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Countries are encouraged to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies in line with the International Health Regulations (2005), WHO said.

(Photo: NIAID, via flickr.com)



The Sofia Globe staff

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