Coronavirus: what happens if you arrive in Spain?

Despite the fact that the number of those infected with coronavirus does not stop growing - the last balance counts up to 894 cases - and also the number of deaths - there are already 26 -, the World Health Organization (WHO) did not consider it necessary to activate the international emergency . "It is too early to declare the alert," the panel of experts concluded Thursday after two days of deliberations. All the cases that were known had previously been in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, except for two that were spread from very close contact with people from this Chinese city. Hence, WHO wants to wait to see what the evolution is before giving the global public health alert.

For its part, China is striving to contain the progress of the coronavirus: it has closed Wuhan and a dozen surrounding cities, which keeps 41 million people in quarantine - to get an idea, Spain has 46. But that has not prevented the pathogen from jumping to nine other countries: Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal and U.S. In the latter country, a second case was confirmed yesterday, a woman from Chicago who traveled to Wuhan. Although it may not be the last, since the US authorities are studying another 63 possible infections. France also confirmed yesterday two positive coronavirus, the first in Europe.

In Spain, all alerts jumped yesterday when the Ministry of Health, at a press conference, admitted that it was investigating two possible cases of coronavirus. The director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, revealed that they were two people who had been in Wuhan, but a few hours later the presence of the Chinese virus in these two suspects was ruled out. After the scare, many begin to wonder if there is a real risk that it ends up reaching our borders. "The level of concern is low but active," said Simon. However, He pointed out that despite being unlikely to import the virus into Spain "it can happen" because the quarantine imposed by China cannot be 100% effective. Therefore, Spain, in coordination with the EU and according to the International Health Regulations, is "trying to implement measures to prevent the importation of the coronavirus and control it if it arrives." Do not lose sight of the fact that citizens of Wuhan come from Spain - a city of 11 million people - and that, in addition, there are three Spanish companies that are based there: Inditex, with seven stores; IAG, the conglomerate owner of Iberia, Vuelin and British Airways; and the automotive company CIE Automotive.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health has developed an action protocol with the autonomous communities whose first objective is to have mechanisms that allow a rapid and effective detection of the virus without implying a collapse of the health system.

On time detection

The line of action would be as follows: guarantee the timely detection of a possible case of coronavirus, make the diagnosis as quickly as possible in coordination with the National Microbiology Center and take the necessary control measures on the infected and also follow up to your closest contacts. According to the specialist, the patient should be isolated, and "if the hospital has a negative pressure room, better, but not essential." Since its lethality is not exceptional, "around 2.5%, much lower than that of other diseases to which we are accustomed," Simón added, in most cases only support measures would be necessary to alleviate the symptomatology However, the Ministry of Health ensures that it has several types of antivirals and in sufficient quantity if necessary, but that "being a new virus we can not know if they will be effective or not." "In China we are already talking about possible useful antivirals, but we need to have a follow-up of the patients who have been administered to know their effectiveness," he said.

Asked if exceptional prevention measures are necessary with people who land in Spain from Wuhan, the president of the Alert Coordination Center said: «No need to worry, if they are sick they just have to try not to have contact with other people and go immediately to a hospital detailing where they come from. We are in full seasonal flu epidemic and most likely that is. If they have a flu symptomatology, tests must be done to rule out the presence of coronavirus. The result will probably be negative ».

This protocol, which was published on the website of the Ministry of Health late yesterday afternoon, recommends investigating coronavirus infection in those cases that meet at least one epidemiological criterion, that is: a person who has traveled to Wuhan 14 days before the onset of symptoms, or anyone who is in direct contact with an infected 14 days before the onset of symptoms. Those who meet any of these clinical criteria will also be investigated: a severe acute respiratory infection requiring hospital admission and fever or recent history, as well as acute respiratory infection (one or more of the following effects: dyspnea, cough or sore throat ).

Airport control

Some countries in our environment are beginning to implement temperature control measures at airports to detect possible cases of infection in passengers with fever. In Spain, for now, it has been ruled out, as there are no direct flights to Wuhan. "These are procedures that have rarely demonstrated their effectiveness and there is no scientific evidence to support their use," said Fernando Simón. In this regard, he also explained that "international flights sometimes produce fever and respiratory problems, so implementing these measures would only be a major hindrance in passenger movements," he added.


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