“Yet the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9).
On December 31, 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown origin was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. On January 9, 2020, China CDC reported a novel coronavirus as the causative agent of this outbreak, which is related to the SARS-Coronavirus. The disease associated with the virus is referred to as novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
As of March 11, 2020, 118,598 cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide by more than 100 countries. Since late February, the majority of cases reported are from outside China, with an increasing majority of these reported from the European countries and the USA.
The Director General of the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.
In the current situation where COVID-19 is rapidly spreading worldwide and the number of cases in the US and Europe is rising with increasing pace in several affected areas, there is a need for immediate targeted action.
The speed with which COVID-19 can cause nationally incapacitating epidemics once transmission within the community is established indicates that in a few weeks or even days, it is likely that similar situations to those seen in China and Italy could be seen in other countries.
There are no vaccines available, and there is little evidence on the effectiveness of potential therapeutic agents. In addition, there is presumably no pre-existing immunity in the population against the new coronavirus and everyone in the population is assumed to be susceptible.
Clinical presentations of COVID-19 range from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe pneumonia; severe disease can lead to death. While the majority of cases (80%) are milder respiratory infections and pneumonias, severe illness and death are more common among the elderly with other chronic underlying conditions, with these risk groups accounting for the majority of severe disease and fatalities to date.
Then how should we respond???
The risk of transmission of COVID-19 in health and social institutions with large vulnerable populations is considered high. The impact of transmission in health and social institutions can be mediated by the application of effective infection prevention and control and surge capacity.
Given the current epidemiology and risk assessment, and the expected developments in the next days to a few weeks, the following public health measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic are necessary:
Social distancing measures should be implemented early in order to mitigate the impact of the epidemic and to delay the epidemic peak. This can interrupt human-to-human transmission chains, prevent further spread, reduce the intensity of the epidemic and slow down the increase in cases, while allowing healthcare systems to prepare and cope with an increased influx of patients.
Such measures should include:
• Isolation of symptomatic persons suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
• Avoid mass gatherings, take into consideration the size of the event, the density of participants and if the event is in a confined indoor environment.
• Take social distance measures at workplaces and schools (for example teleworking, suspension of meetings, cancellation of non-essential travel)
• Stay in communications with national surveillance systems that are constantly assessing community transmission, with particular focus on severe acute respiratory infections.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3,4).
As the body of Christ, we first called to His place – His presence. With clean hands, representing our actions, motivated by a clean heart, evidenced by our relationship with Jesus – and no other god or idol. What is in your hands right now? They may be clean from sanitizer, but above all, are they clean from sin? Check your heart first – and ask yourself, does Jesus reside there? He is knocking on the door of your heart – all He asks is that you acknowledge your sin and invite Him in. Jesus is the ultimate cleanser, the Author of life both here and eternity.
2. World Health Organization (WHO). Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (March 11, 2020).