Antoni Trilla (Barcelona, 63 years old), head of the Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology Service of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, believes that the measures being taken to stop Wuhan coronavirus they are adequate, “taking into account that there is no vaccine or treatment against the pathogen”. He defines China’s quarantines as “something unprecedented” and believes that the Spanish health system is doing the right thing: “Try to detect a possible traveling case, isolate it and reduce the risk of a transmission occurring here.”
Question. How do you rate the repatriations of the Spaniards who were trapped in Wuhan?
Reply. It does not pose any risk to our population. You could even do this quarantine at home. The request is logical and I see it totally acceptable.
P. Is the quarantine of those who will arrive from Wuhan an excess of zeal?
R. Apparently, it comes from the agreement they have reached with China. They did not make it easy to let citizens out if countries did not commit to follow a quarantine. For security, to comply with this deal, enter them for 14 days with a calm regime, thinking that nothing will happen, it seems fine.
P. From what we know about the virus, what is its potential?
R. The key is “as far as we know.” You can behave different ways, and there are data that can change, or things that fit, in one way or another: the lethality rate [de en torno al 2%] It is probably calculated only for the most serious cases. Today there are three possible scenarios. One: that it will be able to contain in a few days in China and that the magnitude of the epidemic would decrease rapidly. I think it is unlikely, but it is not impossible. The intermediate scenario is that this prolongation of the measures will make the epidemic last 12 or 14 months and be controlled. The third: that the epidemic is not controlled at source, that there are transmission chains in countries that cannot take the measures of China and that the virus is installed between us and is one more of those that give us problems. But I think this is the least likely scenario.
P. If it were installed among us, would it be comparable to the influenza virus, to that of a more common pneumonia?
R. I would say that it is less serious than the SARS [síndrome respiratorio agudo grave], which is the other coronavirus we have experience with, and perhaps more easily transmitted. Comparing it to a flu is complicated because every year it changes, mutates, affects hundreds of thousands of people and has a negligible mortality due to the number of people affected. I think it is more comparable to SARS, which disappeared. It will be going around some bug in Asia, but the control measures in the affected countries managed to control the transmission chains.
P. What does the international emergency that has activated WHO mean?
R. It is the activation of an article of the international sanitary regulation that empowers two things: to give notices and recommendations (it has no executive power) and, on the other hand, that in the case of China it is not very applicable, it allows to mobilize both economic and human resources To help the country of origin.
P. Is your application successful?
R. If we consider the definition of an emergency, I think it is justified to do so. Infections in China are increasing and there are several countries with imported cases.
P. When your friends and family ask if they should worry, what do you answer?
R. In Spain we do not have this disease and hopefully if there is an imported case it will be detected and monitored in time. Here we are in full flu epidemic. We must live a normal life and take the same precautionary measures: do not cough in the face of the neighbor, wash your hands … it is a normal situation for us. But you have to look with your eyes open to what happens in China and other countries to see how it evolves. On whether to travel or not, it is a very mobile recommendation: if you leave, the measures are also the usual ones, maybe there, wear masks.
P. There are Spanish pharmacies where the masks have been used up, are we overacting?
R. There is a good phrase from the movie Contagion which says: “There is nothing more contagious than fear.” Therefore, a call to calm. People can do what they want, but it is not necessary at all.