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Editor's Viewpoint

Spread of coronavirus and first confirmed UK cases demonstrate the need for a swift global response in future

Editor's Viewpoint


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'It is clear that we need to talk about global protocols for detecting, containing and treating these outbreaks where possible' (stock photo)

'It is clear that we need to talk about global protocols for detecting, containing and treating these outbreaks where possible' (stock photo)

'It is clear that we need to talk about global protocols for detecting, containing and treating these outbreaks where possible' (stock photo)

Over the past two weeks the headlines about the coronavirus have been reminiscent at times of Hollywood's finest efforts at portraying an apocalyptic wipe-out.

There have been stories about a 'killer virus', of pandemics, of cities in lockdown, and of mutating viruses. All of these have been accompanied by images of people wearing masks, and of cleaners in protective clothing making their way through areas where the public have congregated.

Now the World Health Organisation has declared coronavirus to be a global emergency and a flight from China bearing 83 UK citizens, including Ben Pinkerton from Dungannon, and 27 non-UK citizens, has landed in Britain.

They are now being quarantined and these developments are taking place while two cases of coronavirus are already confirmed in the UK.

This serves as a timely reminder about how small our world is today. Most of us are on the move at one time or another, whether for work or pleasure.

The fact that during this period thousands of people were returning home to China to spend the Chinese New Year with their families has added to the risk of the virus spreading.

There are legitimate questions to be asked about what steps have been taken at UK airports to minimise the risk of the disease making its way into the country.

Flights have been suspended and travel has been restricted, but it seems that until recently most people arriving at Heathrow from China were merely being handed leaflets.

Even recent history tells us that this kind of situation will arise again. While it is understandable that people may feel alarmed, it is important to keep a sense of perspective and to take precautions.

It is also clear that we need to talk about global protocols for detecting, containing and treating these outbreaks where possible. The questions about such developments are likely to be with us for quite some time to come.

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