Exeter uni lecturer says coronavirus is concerning for South West but not cause for panic

He says face masks have a marginal effect in limiting the spread of coronavirus


Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter's College of Medicine and Health, says the coronavirus outbreak should be a cause for concern but not worry or panic for people in the South West.

Dr Pankhania is an expert in disease control and says that for a reduction in the person-to-person spread of infections, good hand hygiene is relevant at all times, not only during outbreaks.

He added : “I often observe people in public toilets not washing their hands or not washing and drying them properly. It is no wonder that we have outbreaks."

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Credit: SWNS

Dr Pankhania said the UK's reaction to the coronavirus outbreak was “measured and driven by science."

He warned against “draconian” measures such as those brought in by Australia, which is placing 600 returning expats from Hubei – the province that surrounds Wuhan – in quarantine on Christmas Island, 1,200 miles from the Australian mainland.

The UK Government plans to return 200 British citizens today from the city of Wuhan, the focus of the outbreak.

Returnees will remain in quarantine for two weeks. Those coming back from other parts of China will not be quarantined but have been advised to isolate themselves for 14 days.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Dr Pankhania's reference to a "measured" response that is "driven by science" comes after Exeter students were panicked by a rumour that a student had contracted coronavirus after travelling back from Wuhan City.

A spokesperson for the University of Exeter swiftly denied the rumour and the University sent an email to students containing advice, as well as assurance that the situation was being carefully monitored.

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The email sent by the University contained a list of symptoms of Novel Coronavirus and advice from Public Health England

Dr Pankhania addressed the role of over-intensive farming practices in spreading viruses and the use of face masks in controlling the spread of coronavirus.

He said: “Viruses are not becoming more common. It is more a case of mankind making more and more incursions into animal territory, and or living in closer proximity to either farmed animals or excessive handling of animals we normally did not encounter.

"Face masks have a marginal effect in limiting the spread [of coronavirus].

"With any sneezing-type infection we need to instigate control measures and the easiest of control measures are, as for the influenza infections; to sneeze into tissues and put them in a suitable bin, to wash hands and dry them properly

“Catch it, bin it, kill it.”

Featured image credit: SWNS

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