September 22, 2020

Spaniards in Wuhan: Foreign repatriation, still undated

“The day to day of my husband and the rest of Spaniards isolated in Wuhan is to see how the hours spend dos trapped’ ’on the floor. They get it right. They don’t want to get it. Last Friday they made a big purchase to fill the fridge because they don’t know how many days they are going to be like that, ”explains Mónica Nicolás, Manuel Vela’s wife, to this newspaper. “We want them repatriated now,” he asks. Yesterday, precisely the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González, said on her Twitter account that the Government is working, together with the Minister of Health and the Spanish Embassy in China, to repatriate the score of Spaniards in the epicenter of the coronavirus. However, they gave no date. «Not us either. We have been talking with each other for a week and we are always told that they are considering options but do not specify a date ». Hence, yesterday «my friend Madela Suca launched an initiative on the platform asking that they urgently evacuate the Spaniards ». At the close of this edition they had already obtained almost 22,000 signatures.

Monica knows perfectly well that time plays against her loved ones. The chances of becoming infected increase with each passing day, so “it is important that citizens sign this petition because the one who is there could be the father, brother or son of anyone here.” Monica, like the rest of the family, wants the government to give them a date. They, as well as the isolated Spaniards in Wuhan, live pending news, calls … They do not understand how “France has already made a date and Spain has not,” says Monica in reference to the minister last Sunday French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn announced that in mid-week the French country will proceed to make a repatriation by direct air with the prior agreement of the Chinese authorities.

His fear is logical. But that does not mean that the risk of 2019-nCoV, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has provisionally called it, is low: it has «2.5%» lethality, lower than that of other diseases in our environment , as Fernando Simón, director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, stressed last Friday.

Portugal has not specified a date. Thus, the Portuguese Government, having recommended avoiding “non-essential trips to China,” announced yesterday that it is preparing to evacuate Portuguese citizens residing at the epicenter of the outbreak of the new aggressive coronavirus. Specifically, the Portuguese Government has received the request of 14 Portuguese residents in Wuhan to leave China (there are 20), as explained yesterday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, Augusto Santos Silva, who perhaps gave the clue by stating that Portugal «will develop joint actions with other countries that also intend to evacuate their countrymen from the area ».

It is also important to remain calm (which does not help the absence of specificity by Foreign Affairs), especially when the coronavirus has an incubation period of 14 days; that is to say, that it is contagious before the symptoms appear, which differentiates it from the acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that after starting in 2002 in China caused more than 700 deaths. Thus, according to the Semes Infections Group, although the coronavirus is less aggressive than Ebola, being asymptomatic the possibility of infection is easier.

Although at the moment it is unknown how the supervision or the protocol to be followed after their repatriation will be, in France, for example, «these people, upon arrival, will have to remain in a reception area for 14 days», a quarantine period intended to try to prevent the spread of the virus in the Gallic country. In this regard, experts recommend that, at the time of repatriation, either opt for isolation in a hospital or isolation at home if the patient is asymptomatic but within the incubation period to avoid contagion. La Paz, Puerta de Hierro and Gómez Ulla have isolation rooms.

It is, in short, to avoid as much as possible that the coronavirus spreads. Hence, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) alerted the European authorities about the need to “strengthen”, since only if the necessary measures are applied, the risk of secondary contagion in the EU will be “low” . On the other hand, a late detection of an imported case or the non-application of the relevant control measures would make the risk of secondary transmission in the community environment “very high”.

However, sources at Madrid-Barajas Airport Adolfo Suarez criticized that «workers or gloves are not being given masks every day that interact with an audience that is unknown whether or not they carry the virus. The only company that has done so has been China Eastern Airlines, although only to attend the outbound flights, not the arrivals ”, so the risk of contagion remains the same.

How to act when they return?

Analysis of Dr. Sara Gayoso of the SEMES Infection Group

-What should be the protocol to follow during repatriation to avoid contagion?

-The transport to be used will be medicalized or not according to the clinical situation of the patients. Once back, if people arrive without symptoms or with mild symptoms that do not require hospital admission, isolation could be carried out at the patient’s home until the incubation period of 14 days is fulfilled, since it has been proven that the virus transmission by asymptomatic people during this time.

– Being asymptomatic is worse than Ebola?

-From the point of view of transmission capacity and contagion, it is higher in the case of coronavirus than for Ebola. The latter also requires direct contact with the patient’s fluids, while in the case of the coronavirus, airborne transmission is sufficient. But as far as legality is concerned, the coronavirus is much less aggressive than Ebola.

-What measures should we put the Spaniards to prevent?

-Avoid traveling to the affected area is the main thing. And then: wash your hands frequently, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze … In Spain it is not necessary to take any special precautions for handling food or dealing with animals.

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