The coronavirus outbreak and its possible reach on Balearic Islands
The Balearic newspaper Mallorca Confidencial has interviewed Miquel Puiggròs - our colleague, biologist, journalist, the group's Technical Manager and permanent member of the group's Panel of Experts - in order to get an informed view about the impact the virus may have in the region.
MAC. Miquel, what is the coronavirus?
Well, Coronavirus is actually a group of viruses that have about 40 types or species, and historically have caused epidemics. The SARS-CoV was first identified in Southeast Asia in 2002 and 2003, the MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia in 2012, etc.
They are nothing new, in fact, a percentage of the common colds are from Coronavirus. What happens is this virus is popular now for the appearance of the 2019-CoV or Wuhan Coronavirus, originated in China, which since the end of December has already produced more than 250 deaths, has made about 12,000 people sick and forced confine millions of citizens and virtually close cities in China.
A certain psychosis has been unleashed as it was unleashed years ago with influenza A, African Ebola, Zika virus, etc., but we don't even remember them anymore.
MAC. What are the chances of contagion in Mallorca as we are a tourist destination and, therefore, with many foreign visitors?
Uffff, difficult question. The data issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations change minute by minute.
It is true that the virus is spreading fast and there are already confirmed cases in about twenty countries. It is also true that this week a case has been confirmed in the Canary Islands.
But there are also many ‘suspects’ cases that are later denied. And many fake news.
Obviously, from my knowledge - I am not an expert in virology or epidemiology, I am into risk prevention - I must say that the uncontrolled entry of people can be a big risk, for example, in a tourist destination: In fact, I have read in the media that the case of La Gomera is about a German who had contact with a patient in Germany.
But I must also say that health systems in developed countries usually work very well and humanitarian disasters of biological origin occur more in developing countries.
Still remember that the flu, many sexually transmitted diseases, and many gastroenteritis are caused by some type of virus and are common here. Therefore, of course the virus can enter Mallorca.
"It's true that the virus is spreading fast and, as of today, there are already confirmed cases in about twenty countries."
MAC. So, Should Majorcan be worried, and should we take security measures?
The recommendations of the health authorities must be followed. Look at me, I'm not worried at all here in Mallorca, now. Within a while, if it arrives and expands among the population, then we must be prepared.
This Thursday, WHO declared an international alert for the rapid spread of the virus.
MAC. What precautions and safety measures should we take in the domestic sphere, and in the business case, on all the hotels?
Well, in any area the measures are the same. First, do not come into contact with the illness because we remember that it is a respiratory infection (in fact, referring again to the psychosis that I told you, even in Palma some pharmacies have exhausted the masks).
Then hygiene measures must be taken, such as washing your hands very frequently, covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, avoiding visiting markets or places where certain animals are present, and especially cleaning and disinfecting all contact surfaces. For the latter, hotels must follow more and less the same protocols that are followed in the case of Norovirus.
MAC. In case of suspecting that we have been infected. What should we do?
Request medical consultation immediately! And follow the recommendations of the health authorities
MAC. Have you received inquiries from local entrepreneurs in Preverisk? and / or national and international?
Not at the moment. But we are prepared, as we were when the influenza A happened, every time there is a 'virus pass' (Norovirus), or an outbreak of Legionella, etc.
MAC. What could Preverisk do as a company?
Well, right now we are issuing informative notes on social networks. We maintain constant contact with our clients, which can be hotels, tour operators, or also some public administration with which we have collaborated. We are ‘partners’ of ABTA (the English travel agency group) and we are up to date with what happens, and we support what we are experts in: prevention and control. We also have a Panel of Experts, composed of members of very recognized international prestige, who guide Preverisk in its technical decisions.