Coronavirus: Who is at risk?

Coronavirus: Who is at risk?
People with pre-existing conditions are more at risk. (File/Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 29 January 2020

Coronavirus: Who is at risk?

Coronavirus: Who is at risk?
  • Symptoms are very similar to those of the common cold
  • If you are concerned and were recently in China seek medical advice

DUBAI: Patients with existing health conditions are the most at risk from coronavirus, medical professionals say.

Dr. Amr Mahmoud El Naggar, emergency specialist and head of ER at Medcare Hospital in Al Safa, Dubai told Arab News that recovery from the coronavirus was also dependent on factors such as the age of a patient and the strength of their immune system.

He added that those with a mild infection were more likely to recover faster.

“People with underlying illnesses that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease, include those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, pre-existing kidney failure, people with suppressed immune systems and the elderly, may be at a higher risk” after catching the virus, he said.

Patients with 2019-nCoV (coronavirus) have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, said Dr El Naggar, noting that in severe cases, the virus could lead to pneumonia.

While symptoms of the 2019-nCoV are extremely similar to that of the common cold, he said people displaying signs of acute respiratory illness, and have been to China in the previous 14 days or have had close physical contact with someone who has the virus, must “seek medical treatment immediately.”

The World Health Organisation are warning people to avoid crowded, close-quarters places in order to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

“The virus could lead to a domino effect that could spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching an infected person,” said Dr El Naggar.

To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, he advised people to follow daily preventive actions including washing their hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for 20 seconds if a washroom is not available.

He also advised those suffering from mild symptoms to stay home while sick, to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and to cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue before disposing of it.