The world lives on a hot plate, amid escalating fears of an outbreak of the new Corona virus after it has spread to a large number of countries, prompting the governments and officials to order citizens to stay at home and impose curfews in many countries.
On this, Hawar news agency held a dialogue with the Yemeni doctor Mahmoud al-Azeb who holds a doctorate in immunology from Guangzhou Medical University in China, and is now residing there.
The dialogue was as follows:
How would you rate the level reached in the world to confront the Corona virus?
We cannot say that the world has made great strides in the face of Corona, but we can say that the world has surpassed the element of surprise that Corona started in China, then moved to Iran and Europe, but the only way the world has come is that it has passed the stage of shock. Unfortunately, we still have large confrontations with this virus, but as successes, we can record the success of South Korea, Singapore, China and Thailand, and the Asian countries that have done well confronting the epidemic, while there is a big problem in Europe.
What are the countries in which Corona has spread great?
Europe is now the largest endemic region, and the largest epicenter of the epidemic, for example Italy, although it is characterized by a developed health system, but the prevalence of the disease is more than 26 times that of China compared to the proportion of the population, so that we can say that the treatment of the health systems of these countries was not expected to cause the virus spread to this level.
What about the Arab countries?
The health systems in the Arab world have a big problem. If we make a comparison between them, Italy, China and other developed countries, we are later stages for them, and even if we compare them with the Iranian health system, the health systems of our Arab countries are less developed than the Iranian health system, so the Arab countries in general and unfortunately do not pay much attention to health and scientific research.
What about Egypt?
Egypt has a big problem in the increasing number of people and their crowding, and this virus assassinates and strikes societies, relying on crowding of citizens and their distribution improperly. Therefore, Egypt is the more worrying country in the Arab countries due to the crowding of its population and our culture as Arabs that do not adhere to the strict directives directed by the health systems and the ruling regimes. Commitment is the most important element in preventing the outbreak of the epidemic that is spreading because of communication and direct contact.
What level of risk does this epidemic pose in the Middle East and North Africa? Why?
Corona is a new virus, and all the experiments conducted by scientists around the world have not received or disclosed a specific drug for the treatment of this virus yet. In addition to that, all drugs used have been used for previous diseases due to their similarity to the symptoms of the Corona virus, and therefore can be used to alleviate the severity of the disease, but Corona is considered the most prevalent. While a drug or a vaccine for Corona does not exist, hence its seriousness, and the second risk is its high prevalence in comparison with other epidemics.
Also, most of the countries in the Middle East region are developing countries that witness societal and political problems and wars. All of these reasons will negatively affect the issue of the spread of the disease, and may even cause a catastrophe.
Are the measures taken by the countries of the region sufficient or not?
By following up the measures taken in Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, we cannot deny that there is a quick and special response in Saudi Arabia that rushed to close al-Haram and al-Masjid an-Nabawi to adhere to the quarantine. All of these are successful measures and came at the right time. The preemptive actions are always important in such cases, and in fact most of the pre-mentioned countries have taken adequate available measures.
But our problem with the Corona virus is that it is new, and there is neither approved treatment for it, nor a health system that adapts to deal with it, but all the measures were good, and we support them to continue these efforts, including the suspension of the study in most countries. Even Yemen, Libya and Syria have started now to apply some measures as a proactive solution.
What is required from Arab health systems?
What is required of the existing health systems is paying attention to the scientific research, especially in the Middle East region, our interest in scientific research is very weak, which made us unable to search for a treatment or vaccine at a time when the whole world is working to find a suitable vaccine as if our region does not care about this issue; thus, we affirm that the interest in the research aspect is very important and will contribute to curbing any epidemic, whether it is strange or new.
Is the health sector in the Arab countries ready to face this epidemic?
The Arab health sectors are most prepared, and most countries have announced their mobilization to deal with this crisis, but the issue differs from one country to another, as two more countries have taken adequate measures are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, especially since their health systems and their health infrastructure enabled them to do so. As for the crowded countries with population such as Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Algeria, the population gatherings are random and unordered, and it is difficult for the ruling regime to control them despite the preparations for that.
How should the people behave in the presence of some careless?
The peoples of our region should have the highest levels of responsibility, as this is a new epidemic for which the world knows no decision or treatment, and this is a major catastrophe. People must deal with any reckless before the system deals with them because they put the life of the entire society at risk. Epidemic diseases named so because they spread and are valid, and therefore, they are not considered personal diseases, but societal that harm the whole society.
All peoples must bear responsibility, and stop the reckless people from their selfish behavior. If the careless people think that their immune system may protect them, there are women, elders, and children whose immune systems do not bear the risk of endangering their lives, and this behavior is an endeavor to kill others. People should put an end to them.
What advice do you give people?
The necessity to adhere to all the health directives that health and governing systems launch, in addition to avoiding the state of terror, hysteria and phobia because it exacerbates the crisis. What is required here is to be responsible, and not to spread fear, panic and terror among people.
Corona is a catastrophe that has befallen the planet collectively and has become a global epidemic that has swept all countries. As individuals, we must be responsible for our society. Anyone must adhere to the rules of quarantine staying at their quarantine for 14 days, and this is an opportunity for being alone with the soul holding it accountable, reading, acquiring knowledge and enjoying with the family.
What are the measures that led to the prevention of the disease in China, as you reside there?
Implementing quarantine strict procedures do not exclude anyone, as two factors helped that; a key factor which is the government, as it has taken great care in hospitals and scientific research, applied quarantine procedures, and worked to set great distances among the people, stopping study and work in all institutions, prohibiting gatherings, stopping metro, airport and transportation in Wuhan, in addition to preventing anyone from leaving even the doors of homes. The second factor is the people who easily respond to all government directives voluntarily without any violations, which caused the success of preventing the disease prevalence.
The Chinese government has also assumed a great deal of responsibility in terms of providing masks, purges, and everything that contributes to the prevention of the virus. Now we have reached zero cases during the last days, all new cases that appear in China are imported from abroad. Furthermore, the situation has been under control.