(Asian News Hub) – Members of a World Health Organization-led team looking for clues about the origins of COVID-19 held a briefing on Tuesday after nearly a month of meetings and site visits in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease was first identified.
A member of the WHO-China joint study team, Liang Wannian, said that there is no evidence of transmission of the novel coronavirus before December 2019 in Wuhan.
The WHO team recommended that more studies are required to identify the source of Covid-19 spread in the world.
Another World Health Organisation expert said the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and most probably jumped to humans via an intermediary species.
WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek made the assessment in a summation Tuesday of a WHO team’s investigation into the possible origins of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Embarek said that cold chain transmission of the virus is a possibility and warrants further investigation.
‘Cold chain’ refers to the transport and trade of frozen food. China has pushed the idea that the virus can be transmitted by frozen food and has repeatedly announced findings of coronavirus traces on imported food packaging.
“We know the virus can survive in conditions that are found in these cold, frozen environments, but we don’t really understand if the virus can transmit to humans” or under which conditions, he told the briefing.
He said that work to identify the origins of the coronavirus points to a natural reservoir in bats, but it is unlikely that they were in Wuhan.
The WHO team that includes experts from 10 nations arrived in Wuhan on January 14 and after two weeks of quarantine, visited key sites like the Huanan seafood market, the location of the first known cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been involved in coronavirus research.
While the virus is widely believed to have originated from an animal source and spread to humans through an intermediary, the WHO team emphasised on studying the possibility of the transmission of the virus through frozen food, along with other possibilities.
Another team member, infectious disease expert Dominic Dwyer, said it would probably take years to fully understand the origins of COVID-19.
The first clusters of COVID-19 were detected in Wuhan in late 2019, prompting the government to put the city of 11 million under a strict 76-day lockdown. (With inputs from agencies)
Union Govt releases guidelines for battling Monkeypox outbreak
Srinagar, Aug 03: In the wake of the rising cases of Monkeypox in the country, Union Health Ministry on Wednesday released guidelines to prevent the spread of Monkeypox disease, ANI reported.
The Ministry, in its official communication, informed that there was no reported case of the Monkeypox virus in India till May 31, 2022. However, India needs to be prepared in view of the increasing reports of cases in non-endemic countries.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox (MPX) is a viral zoonotic disease with symptoms similar to smallpox, although with less clinical severity. MPX was first discovered in 1958 in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘Monkeypox.’
The first human case of Monkeypox was reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1970. The Monkeypox Virus primarily occurs in Central and West Africa. In 2003, the first Monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa was reported in the United States of America, which was linked to contact with infected pet prairie dogs. These pets had been housed with Gambian pouched rats and dormice that had been imported into the country from Ghana.
Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and nature of complications.
Mode of Transmission
Human-to-human transmission is known to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets generally requiring prolonged close contact. It can also be transmitted through direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens of an infected person.
Animal-to-human transmission may occur by a bite or scratch of infected animals like small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, apes) or through bush meat preparation.
A person of any age having history of travel to affected countries within the last 21 days presenting with an unexplained acute rash and one or more of the following signs or symptoms.
Swollen lymph nodes
Common symptoms and signs
Prodrome (0-5 days)
Typically occurs with fever onset
Periauricular, axillary, cervical or inguinal
Unilateral or bilateralc. Headache, muscle aches, exhaustion
d. Chills and/or sweats
e. Sore throat and cough
Skin involvement (rash)
a. Usually begins within 1-3 days of fever onset, lasting for around 2-4 weeks
b. Deep-seated, well-circumscribed and often develop umbilication
c. Lesions are often described as painful until the healing phase when they become itchy (in the crust stage)
The Ministry further laid down guidelines for proper monitoring of those who came in contact with the infected person.
a) Contacts should be monitored at least daily for the onset of signs/symptoms for a period of 21 days (as per case definition above) from the last contact with a patient or their contaminated materials during the infectious period. In case of occurrence of fever clinical/lab evaluation is warranted.
b) Asymptomatic contacts should not donate blood, cells, tissue, organs or semen while they are under surveillance.
c) Pre-school children may be excluded from day care, nursery, or other group settings.
d) Health workers who have unprotected exposures to patients with monkeypox or possibly contaminated materials do not need to be excluded from work duty if asymptomatic, but should undergo active surveillance for symptoms for 21 days.
Measures to prevent infection with monkeypox virus
- Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick person.
- Isolate infected patients from others.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.
- Surveillance and rapid identification of new cases is critical for outbreak containment. During human Monkeypox outbreaks, close contact with infected persons is the most significant risk factor for monkeypox virus infection. Health workers and household members are at a greater risk of infection.
- Health workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed monkeypox virus infection, or handling specimens from them, should implement standard infection control precautions. Samples taken from people and animals with suspected monkeypox virus infection should be handled by trained staff working in suitably equipped laboratories. Patient specimens must be safely prepared for transport with triple packaging in accordance with WHO guidance for transport of infectious substances.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)
A combination of standard, contact, and droplet precautions should be applied in all healthcare settings when a patient presents with fever and vesicular/pustular rash. In addition, because of the theoretical risk of airborne transmission of Monkeypox virus, airborne precautions should be applied as per risk assessment.
In the wake of the rising cases of Monkeypox in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday assured citizens not to panic and said that an awareness campaign is being run in collaboration with the state governments to prevent the spread of the infection.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday during the ongoing Monsoon session of the Parliament, the Union Minister said, “There is no need to be afraid of Monkeypox, an awareness campaign is being run in collaboration with the state governments: Public awareness is very necessary in the context of Monkeypox. We have also formed a task force under the chairmanship of a member of NITI Aayog on behalf of the Government of India.”
“On the basis of the observations of the task force, we will assess and study the further action to be taken. If the state government of Kerala needs any kind of help from the Central government, it will be given. Also, an expert team of the Central government is guiding the state government from time to time,” he said.
India reports first Monkeypox casuality
Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 01: The death of the 22-year-old youth, who came from the UAE to Trissur on July 22, has now been confirmed as the first monkeypox casuality in India, said Kerala health authorities on Monday.
The samples were sent to NIV Pune and the results came on Monday as positive.
22 year old Hafeez passed away on Sunday and after that suspicions were there if it was monkeypox. Soon the health authorities swung into action and started preparing a detailed contact list of him after his arrival at the Kozhikode airport.
It has been found out that four of his friends and his family members were also there, to receive him at the airport.
The next day he was out playing football with his friends. On July 27, he collapsed and was taken to a local clinic and from there he was moved to a hospital, where he was undergoing treatement and passed away on Sunday.
The health department has already begun their job to get in touch with all those who came in contact with the deceased.
The health officials are also finding out if any information was withheld. State Revenue Minister K. Rajan, who hails from Trissur, said so far 21 people have been identified as primary contacts and have been isolated.
“So far, there have been no reports of any primary contacts having any issues. However the health officials are leaving nothing to chance and a high alert is on,” said Rajan.
Unnecessary referral of patients to tertiary hospitals continue unabated
Srinagar, Jul 23: Unnecessary referrals of patients from districts to tertiary care hospitals goes unchecked in Kashmir putting burden on men and machinery at the hospitals.
Doctors posted at tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) unnecessary referrals of patients from sub district and district hospitals is over burdening these hospitals.
“We receive dozens of patients on a daily basis who can be managed at sub-district and district hospitals easily but they are being referred here,” said a doctor working at SMHS Hospital.
He said that there is a difference of facilities available at district hospitals and tertiary care hospitals but most of the time around 30 percent of patients are being referred unnecessarily who can be easily treated at sub district and district hospitals.
Doctors said that so far the government has issued many circulars in order to avoid unnecessary referrals but the ground situation remains the same.
They said that the government has already improved the infrastructure status of peripheral hospitals of peripherals but it must be improved further so that doctors won’t give any excuse and unnecessary referrals can be avoided.
In May, the government had ordered an audit of all referrals from district level hospitals to tertiary care hospitals in order to optimize the manpower available in peripheries and patient services across the healthcare system.
Medical superintendent SMHS Hospital Dr Kanwaljeet Singh said that if they question patients about referrals, it makes attendants violent.
“There are some patients who can be treated at district and sub district hospitals but are referred to tertiary care hospitals,” he said.
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