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The Hungarian authorities have also relied on the knowledge base of the University of Debrecen in the effort to develop vaccine against the new coronavirus, as Zoltán Szilvássy, rector, announced at Tuesday’s press conference on the preventive measures related to the coronavirus.
The university leader said that due to the fact that the institution has over 500 international students from the affected region – which includes not only students from China, but also from Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia – special attention is paid to the news related to the outbreak.
“We do not plan to impose significant restrictions; however, we recommend to the students concerned a change in their travel habits. Our request to them was not to travel until the end of the epidemic,” Szilvássy said. The rector added that further precautionary measures have also been introduced at the healthcare facilities of the university; for example, a fever screening point is being set up at the Emergency Clinic.
Ervin Berényi, head of the University Clinic Centre, underlined that in healthcare the period between January to March is about the flu each year, to which the coronavirus outbreak is now added.
“Similarly to previous years, we introduced some measures designed to stop the spread of the epidemic. In comparison with other institutions, the University of Debrecen has more intensive care patient beds, the utilisation rate of which, as well as the availability of respirators, is continuously monitored. At the Departments of Pulmonology and Internal Medicine, serious cases can be treated at a separate unit. If justified by the flu epidemic, we can free up an additional 40 to 80 beds within a week’s time. On the basis of the decision of the health authorities, patients diagnosed with coronavirus infection must be taken to the “Jahn Ferenc” South-Pest Hospital and Clinic,” Berényi said.
“Of the 376 Chinese students studying at the University of Debrecen, 4 are from the most infected region,” Attila Jenei told the press. As the director of the Coordinating Center for International Education said, the affected students are being contacted: due to the examination period currently under way, few of them travelled home; in their cases questionnaires are used to find out if they have been to the area concerned, had any contact with infected persons, and whether they show any symptoms.
“In connection with the SARS outbreak 17 years ago and the Western African Ebola virus epidemic in 2014, we have already elaborated the necessary protocols for such cases. We are in continuous contact with students from the countries concerned, and on the basis of the information received, we take the necessary measures. The educational administration is also handling the situation properly, and none of the students can suffer any disadvantage due to the precautionary measures introduced,” Jenei said. The director added that all international students receive primary healthcare service on the area of the university campus, which means that they do not come into contact with the general population in the event of illness.
István Várkonyi, head of the Institute of Infectology at the “Kenézy Gyula” University Hospital, said that the coronavirus has been known from the 1960s. It has four types, one of which is the cause of the current outbreak in China. In the winter period, apart from the flu, coronaviruses cause most illnesses.
“On the basis of the clinical symptoms, it is very difficult to differentiate these viruses from one another, and therefore, it is very important that we document the epidemic anamnesis when screening out suspicious cases. The incubation period of the new coronavirus is two weeks, so any suspected patients must be kept under epidemic observation for 14 days. In case of the appearance of the disease, the Institute of Infectology can isolate patients in one or two-bed wards, where the healthcare staff can treat them in the proper protective clothing,” Várkonyi said.
The University of Debrecen fully cooperates with the National Public Health Centre in accordance with the rules introduced in connection with the coronavirus.