New virus infection may be through the eyes


BANGKOK – The number of persons infected with coronavirus has increased with fears that it might be contracted through the eyes.

Dr Wang Guangfa of China has been infected with coronavirus because he was not wearing eyeglasses when he was close to a patient. Prof Paul Kellam, a viral specialist from Imperial College London, confirmed infection might occur through the eyes if exposed to a patient’s coughing or sneezing. Medical personnel would now have eye protection apart from nose and mouth protection in the face of a viral outbreak.

Chinese authorities have taken measures to quarantine persons who have been found on public transport systems to be infected or suspected of being so, with the new virus. Such patients would immediately be quarantined from other passengers and sent to the nearest hospital for closer observation.

Meanwhile, public transport stations need to have a proper air ventilation system and have an antiseptic solution available for immediate spraying onto the spot where a patient has been found; they must immediately be reported to the authorities. The measures have been stepped up to the extent that the body temperature of all passengers especially those from Wuhan city are being scanned.

The new virus has so far caused 41 fatalities, 39 of which were found in Hubei province in central China which is located near Wuhan city and the two others in Hebei in northern China and Heilongjiang in northeastern China. A total of 1,322 patients has been confirmed. Of that number, 237 patients were reported to be comatose. Over 30 provinces throughout China are reportedly affected.

Five patients have been reported in Hong Kong, three in Taiwan and two in Macao. In other countries, five patients were reported, three of whom have fully recovered, in Thailand, three patients were reported, one of whom has fully recovered, in Japan, three were reported in France, three in Singapore, two in South Korea, two in the United States, two in Vietnam, one in Nepal, one in Australia and, in a latest report, three in Malaysia.