One of Malta’s leading virologists has come out to rubbish feverish concerns over the new coronavirus strain, COVID-19.
“We should absolutely not be worried about COVID-19. I have been handling viruses for years on end and many more dangerous viruses. We’ve had coronaviruses around for many years, like the common cold,” Dr Chris Barbara explained during an interview with Crisis Teams Malta.
“If people are terrified of COVID-19, why aren’t they scared of influenza which is killing more people,”
Barbara, who has been a leading figure in virology and pathology in Malta, spoke on the issue a day after doomsday-like scenes at Maltese supermarkets with people fearing that the coronavirus could force them to lock themselves up inside.
The nation has been in a frenzy ever since COVID-19 hit neighbouring Italy. However, not a single case has been found in Malta, with authorities beefing up security measures at entry points into the country.
Barbara insisted that people with a healthy immune system have more than enough in them to combat the illness all on their own.
Meanwhile, he revealed that all it takes is soap and water to kill the virus, so simply urged people to wash their hands regularly and avoid large crowds.
“You’ll get an upper respiratory tract infection, a bit of a sore throat, a dry cough, maybe some fever, and feeling a bit unwell for a few days like the common cold,” he said.
The only ones who should be concerned are elderly people with some kind of pre-existing condition, whether that’s diabetes or heart disease.
Barbara explained that in such cases, the virus could reach the lungs and cause pneumonia. However, with a clinical trial underway for a vaccine, Barbara urged caution, and not rabid mania.
“If a person is feeling ill, they should stay at home. But I would be saying the exact same thing even if there wasn’t COVID-19,” he said.
He did concede that it was still too early to say whether the planned vaccine will work.