Update: Policy Statement on COVID-19 pandemic 

Introduction

 

On December 31, 2019, a new virus strain, never detected in humans before, caused the first cases in Wuhan, China. The virus, named SARS-CoV-2 (the name of the disease it causes is COVID-19), has since been identified as part of the coronavirus family. This family includes several pathogens already known to humans, from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means that they are passed to humans by animals, at least in the first instance. The virus can then be transmitted from human to human, as we are seeing with COVID-19.

COVID-19 infection can cause symptoms that vary from mild, with fever and cough, to severe, with shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In the most severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, especially if the patient is not hospitalized and treated.

To prevent the spreading of the virus, COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic as of March 11, 2020, with the World Health Organization (WHO) providing general guidelines for everyone to follow. These are implemented by individual countries depending on their respective situations. Below is a summary of the main points that must be followed, especially in Europe, which was declared epicentric of the pandemic on March 13, 2020 by the WHO:

What to do

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds,
or if that is not possible use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Soap and alcohol kill the virus that can be on our hands and be transferred when we touch things or people.
Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with your hands.
The hands may have been in contact with a surface that was contaminated with the virus.
Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or your elbow when sneezing or coughing
dispose of the tissue immediately in a nearby bin. Through these measures you protect others from potential infected droplets (this applies also to other infections, such as cold or flu).
Maintain social distancing of at least 1 metre (3 feet),
especially with people who are coughing or sneezing. The virus can be found in the respiratory droplets that an infected person expels when coughing or exhaling. Close proximity with an infected individual increases the risk of getting in contact with his/her respiratory droplets.
If you have fever, cough and/or difficulties breathing, stay at home
and call your doctor or the numbers provided by the local health authorities. Do not go to the hospital. These actions will prevent you spreading the infection and give the health staff the opportunity to provide you with the best support
Stay informed
and follow the situation through the official channels, such as ministry of health, WHO, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) or other health authorities. They will provide daily and updated information of the situation in your area and provide the guidelines to follow based on the most recent scientific evidence.
The situation changes on a daily basis, with the number of cases increasing worldwide. Information is constantly gathered by epidemiologists, mathematical modelers and virologists to better understand how the virus is behaving and advise policies to reduce the number of infections and, consequently, the burden on health systems. As of March 17, 2020, WHO reports 179 111 cases and 7426 deaths worldwide. The number of cases in Europe is increasing everyday, with Italy as the most affected country after China. Sweden has, as of March 17, 2020, 1059 cases and 3 deaths, with an increment of more than 900 cases in the last 10 days.

 

Swedish Organization for Global Health’s position

Swedish Organization for Global Health (SOGH), a Swedish non-profit and non-governmental organization comprised of passionate students and young professionals, has the aim to promote global health through evidence-based actions. SOGH is not able to engage in the active response to COVID-19, neither by supporting directly the health system nor producing data, useful for understanding the new pathogen. However, SOGH supports the scientific community directly engaged in the response to the pandemic and we are close to all people affected by it. Moreover, it is our responsibility as a global health organization to put some measures in place to prevent further spreading of the virus and share correct information with our followers through our channels.

To read the full policy click here: Policy statement on COVID-19 pandemic