Media should restrain from creating coronavirus panic: Lancet

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New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) As much is yet to be known about the new coronavirus that has killed over 100 people in China, an editorial in the medical journal Lancet has advised news media to exercise the utmost caution while reporting on the virus.

“News media that worsen fears by reporting a ‘killer virus’ only harm efforts to implement a successful and safe infection control strategy,” said the editorial.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the disease as “high risk”, but it is yet to declare the novel coronavirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

“We commend WHO for its resilience,” said the editorial of the Lancet which last week published the first clinical data from individuals confirmed to be infected with 2019-nCoV from Wuhan, China.

“There are still many gaps in our understanding. The early experiences of these patients and the response to their symptoms before cases were reported remain undocumented. The exposure and possible infection of health workers remain extremely worrying,” it said.

While there are enormous demands for rapid access to information about this new virus, the patients and communities affected and the response, the journal emphasised that the need to ensure that those data are reliable, accurate and independently scrutinised is equally crucial.

“We will not know for some time the consequences of the quarantine imposed in Wuhan on Jan 23, 2020. Chinese public health authorities are under enormous pressure to make difficult decisions with an incomplete, and rapidly changing, understanding of the epidemic,” it added.

–IANS

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