Cyprus International University (CIU) Faculty of Medicine Asst. Prof. Dr. Umut Altunç has recently made statements about the measures taken and the outbreak due to the Coronavirus epidemic at the border gates.
It was mentioned that Coronavirus is not actually a newly discovered microorganism as it is thought and it is a virus that has been known for many years causing different types of outbreaks in respiratory diseases.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Altunç stated that SARS, which was effective in 2003, and MERS, which was spread among the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia in 2012, were the different types of Coronavirus diseases that caused epidemics in the world in previous years. “This disease is similar to an RNA virus caused by Influenza, Hepatitis, Ebola, and West Nile viruses. The new Coronavirus (Covid-19), discovered in 2019, is a species with a different genetic structure that is detected in China and spread to the world. This species, which is thought to be from animal origin, has created a rapidly spreading and fatal outbreak since it contains a genetic structure that the human immune system does not recognize,” he said.
The epidemic started in Wuhan province of China and spread to 67 countries of the world as of March 1, 2020 with 3000 deaths. Altunç said that no case has been diagnosed in Southern and Northern Cyprus yet as of this date. However, it is an undeniable possibility that it can be seen on our island.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Altunç pointed out that the epidemic affected Italy intensely with over 1000 cases after Far Eastern countries around the world: “35 cases in England and 4 cases in Greece were identified. Our country that does get direct flights apart from Turkey which has not yet determined a Covid-19 case".
He reminded that hundreds of passengers travel almost daily from Italy, England, and Greece with direct flights to the southern neighbors and even a single patient has the risk of infecting the entire plane during the flight.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Altunç said that the fever measurements made at the checkpoints were not that effective at identifying Coronavirus cases and preventing the epidemic. He continued his words by stating that the main reason for this is the fact that a person affected by the outbreak does not have a fever for the first 14 days and transmit the disease to others during this period.
Fever does not last all day in sick people, so a sick person can pass through checkpoints when he/she does not have a fever.
In addition, these thermometers, which perform fast and non-contact measurement (ambient temperature, sweaty person, weak battery, etc.) can take the wrong measurements in many cases.
Altunç highlighted that there is a very low chance of transferring Coronavirus disease to Southern Cyprus from the TRNC borders as it does not have Covid-19 patients and no direct flight connection with the countries where the virus is detected. “On the other hand, the South, which has travel links with the countries determined to have the epidemic such as Italy, England and Greece has a high risk of being affected by the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Altunç.
He noted that there is no scientific and rational basis for Southern Cyprus, which does not take measures to control the travel links with the above-mentioned countries for the purpose of protecting its people, to close many land border checkpoints with TRNC and to screen for disease in those that are open.
Altunç mentioned that outbreaks have no boundaries: “It would be both more constructive and more effective measure to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak to the island through the collaboration of health ministries and related health organizations of the two communities by following a joint strategy”.
News Date: March 3, 2020