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April 10, 2020

To prevent infectious diseases, strengthen healthcare system

As the death toll mounts in the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has begun calling attention to the risks the virus poses to the poorest and most vulnerable nations.
Since the start of the outbreak in China, health authorities in Myanmar have advised precautions against the infectious disease, including washing hands, moving away from people before coughing, avoiding public places, and using masks. Besides, people have been asked to ignore the grim prophecies dished out by social-media goblins, check information on official websites, and exercise common sense.
This does not mean that deadly infections like the coronavirus (COVID-19) should be shrugged off. The emergence of the virus worldwide is of real concern to healthcare experts.
To prevent and control the spread of coronavirus effectively, we need a legal framework, such as an infectious disease control law, which can enforce isolation and quarantine and restrictions, with the cooperation of the people.
At the same time, issuing preventive guidelines and information about the deadly virus in Kachin, Wa, and Kokant languages for the ethnic people is an urgent requirement.
Health officials must keep watch on the progress of coronavirus, review updates from the epidemiology perspective, and learn about countering novel viruses.
Meanwhile, the authorities are urged to work in collaboration with countries with robust healthcare systems and development partners to distribute sufficient medicines and medical equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals.
The 2003 SARS outbreak showed why it was essential for nations to share information quickly. It prompted health officials to establish protocols for screening, treatment, and containment, and to share expertise across borders.
Other outbreaks, such as the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, also demonstrated that sharing information with the public is essential to quell panic or mistrust. Health officials are applying these lessons to the coronavirus.
The outbreak of the coronavirus in China and infections in other countries remind us again that epidemics can happen any time and reach our doorsteps without warning.
The best we can do is to strengthen our healthcare systems.

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