Novel coronavirus (46) Healthcare information for the general public (5)

23 February, 2020

Thanks Joseph,

In my previous message [ it is notable that the UK and US are giving different advice to the general public about what they should do if they develop symptoms and have recent history of travel to affected countries. It's unclear why this is so.

In the UK, people are advised to stay at home and dial a helpline.

In the US, people are advised to go to a doctor's office or emergency room ('but phone first to let them know about recent travel')

Meanwhile, in China, the guidance is to seek prompt medical advice.

The [global] advice on the WHO website indicates:

'If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Tell your health care provider if you have traveled in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has traveled from China and has respiratory symptoms.'

With globalisation of social media among citizens worldwide, it seems important that governments provide the same advice unless there are special contextual reasons why this should not be the case (in which case such reasons should be explicit).

I have also checked the French Government website, and the advice there is similar to the UK.

It would be interesting to analyse the consistency (or otherwise) of communication with the general public in different countries, and how this might be improved in future disease outbreaks.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children (sponsorship opportunity - any amount gratefully received)

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: