Coronavirus likely to be pandemic, we must start preparing now: DAK

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Srinagar: In the wake of World Health Organization’s declaration of China’s coronavirus outbreak as an international emergency, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday has advised hospitals in Kashmir to prepare for dealing with potential cases of the deadly infection.

“If the virus sneaks into the valley, public safety will depend on hospital preparedness,” said DAK President Dr. Nisar ul Hassan.

“Hospitals should be prepared to identify, isolate and treat patients to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.

Dr. Nisar said the two designated hospitals, SKIMS and SMHS should have specially designed “negative- pressure” isolation rooms for suspected or confirmed cases. The negative pressure of the room would prevent contaminated air from escaping the room. These rooms should have dedicated ventilators and they should be fitted with HEPA filters that would reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

“These rooms should have separate entrance so that infected patients don’t risk other patients and staff in the hospital,” he added.

He further said doctors and paramedics should be trained for screening, testing and treatment of this novel (new) virus.

“Hospitals should ensure standard infection prevention and control measures like hand washing, cough etiquette and disinfection of surfaces, Dr. Nisar said adding “they should ensure availability of personal protection equipment (PPE) and diagnostic kits. PPE includes face masks, gowns, head caps, googles and shoe-covers.”

“With the virus  likely to become a pandemic, we must start preparing now,” he said.

“The clinical manifestation of the virus are cough and fever and in severe cases difficulty in breathing. Anyone having these symptoms and has a history of travel to the affected area or has been in contact with a suspected or a confirmed case should be screened for the virus.

At least 361 people have died and more than 17,000 people have been infected with this deadly strain so far,” said Dr. Nisar.

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