The best prescription against panic is sound medical advice

Wang Yong
With simple precautions, such as those already emphasized by medical experts, the risk of coronavirus infection can be greatly reduced.
Wang Yong

A top medical expert from Shanghai yesterday reassured the public that COVID-19 can be avoided, provided effective measures are taken.

“The disease can really be prevented,” said Zhang Wenhong, head of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital and head of the Shanghai medical team fighting the novel coronavirus. “If someone does well in keeping a safe distance in social activities, washing their hands and wearing a mask, the risk of getting infected is very low.”

He was addressing overseas Chinese communities in Italy, France, Malaysia, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, through a live video talk yesterday. There have been reports lately about some overseas Chinese, mainly Chinese studying or working overseas, returning to China amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, as Xinmin Evening News reported yesterday, many Chinese students abroad are wondering whether or not to come back to China at this time. Doctor Zhang’s candid conversation came as a timely response to such questions.

“Many friends have asked me whether their children should come back,” he said. “I said you should consider two things in any case: First, how long does it take to curb the virus? What if it extends half a year? Secondly, what shall I do if I stay put and don’t return to China?”

In the second case, he said, what one should do is to take effective health measures such as those explained above. While saying that China has accumulated much experience, he acknowledged that situations vary from country to country.

Zhang’s remark could not be more opportune. His professional analysis can help dispel undue worries. The more voices of reason we hear, the better we can protect ourselves and our friends from misplaced panic.

And Zhang is not alone. Many experts agree that the best advice for the near future is to wash your hands, and to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

With enough preparation and information, there's no cause for panic.

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