Dr Ng Kim Fong, the President of the Johor Doctors Association says, “What the mind doesn’t know, the eyes won’t see”. A quaint but meaningful quote that paints a picture of the typical human response to something that he or she is unaware or ignorant.
Organised by Ihsan Johor and supported by the Johor Doctors Association, over 20 NGos gathered at the Sultan Ismail Hospital for a dialogue and sharing session on the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or commonly known as the Wuhan Virus which first broke out in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans and the pathogen is now referred as COVID-19.
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Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
For a better understanding locally, the dialogue session was essential and significant in educating and equipping the NGOs with information and knowledge about the growing concerns surrounding the virus. This, in turn, will benefit the communities in which the NGOs are actively engaged in, as the call for volunteers and assistance in the health department is much needed.
Rising to the occasion, Dr Norli Rosli, Medical Officer from the Johor Bahru District Health Office shared about the chronology, current situation, as well as the response and action by the relevant departments to tackle the COVID-19 issue.
Similarly, the second speaker for the session, Dr Ahmad Zharif Hussein from the NGO IMARET (Imam Response and Relief Team) shared his insights on the psychological measures that NGOs can take to manage the current situation.
Drawing a conclusion from the session, COVID-19 is indeed a threat to humankind if actions are taken without proper knowledge and procedure. Simple and basic facts about the virus can be obtained from your nearest medical facility which includes the virus type, symptoms, as well as first contact treatment of the symptoms. There isn’t a cure yet or vaccines developed for the Coronavirus, but preventive measures can be taken to curb its spread.
NGOs were encouraged to disseminate knowledge and steps everyone can take to do so such as taking proper measures in equipping oneself with personal protection equipment (PPE) such as masks and sanitisers. One can also help prevent spread by practising proper hygiene steps such as following sneezing and coughing etiquette and regular hand washing the proper way and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
Most importantly, the NGOs are available to handle psychology first aid to control and prevent panic. One of the most disastrous and resource wasting disease to treat is indeed panic.
The majority of the NGOs are also past winners of the Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA), which promotes the collaboration of NGOs within and outside the Iskandar Malaysia region for a more comprehensive and impactful reach.
At the time of writing and according to official data, the total number of reported deaths is over 2000 with the majority in China itself, and the total number of confirmed cases affecting some countries around the world including Malaysia rose to over 75,000. Locally, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) has revealed total cancellations of 95,972 room nights since COVID-19, amounting to RM40 million losses of revenue.