The expert epidemiologist Alfredo Bruno, from the National Institute of Public Health Research (Inspi) of Ecuador, said on Sunday that, given the coronavirus transmission capacity, it is likely that new cases of this disease may occur in the country.
Bruno, in an interview with Efe, recalled that last Saturday Ecuador confirmed an initial case and that the next day five others were reported that have a direct relationship with the first, which demonstrates the high level of transmission of the virus known as COVID-19 .
The index case corresponds to an older adult woman who came from Spain on February 14 and who, when entering the country, had no symptoms of the disease, although days later she had to be isolated in an intensive care area of a hospital , after testing coronavirus.
The other five cases are people in the family environment and close to that patient, who maintained direct contact with her.
Bruno said that there are countries where the transmission of the virus corresponds to an “indigenous circulation” and others in which there are “primary cases”, as in Ecuador, where there are “six cases grouped in the same common source, which is the case index”.
This situation “was expected”, due to the transmissibility characteristics of the virus, the doctor added, stating that this has been repeated in other countries such as Mexico and Italy.
Therefore, he indicated that, being a “respiratory virus easily transmitted from person to person, it is very likely that new cases will appear.”
“The important thing is to maintain prevention plans to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading” and “lower the perception of risk,” said Bruno, who called on the population to remain calm.
He explained that 80 percent of cases of contagion “can be preventable and mild, and very few cases are going to be complicated,” according to statistics that point to people with pre-existing diseases or those over 50, the most likely to Be affected by the disease.
In these types of situations, habitual actions such as “hand washing and sneezing or coughing properly” are essential, Bruno added.
Also, not attending mass events, “keep the immune system strong, eat well, sleep well, exercise, avoid stress”, are also recommended habits to face the epidemic.
“Although there is no vaccine, with these measures infection can be avoided,” he reiterated after recalling that the country’s health prevention system is not only focused on the coronavirus, as there are other easily transmitted pathogens such as Dengue and malaria, which usually occur in times of rain in the country.
“An integral surveillance system is active, not only because of the coronavirus but because of these other factors that may affect the health of Ecuadorians,” Bruno said.
In addition, he recalled that Ecuador has prepared for some years to be part of a “preparedness plan for an eventual pandemic flu.”
These are protocols that are not specific to a type of virus, but that it establishes “a baseline that allows us to prepare ourselves to face new pathogens,” he stressed and recalled the appearance of high-contagion diseases in recent years.
For Bruno, Ecuador is prepared for the eventual appearance of diseases such as the coronavirus, since it has had plans, trained personnel and infrastructure for some years to face these types of challenges.