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Don’t self-medicate


Doctors are warning people against self-prescribing the so-called “coronavirus cure”, after recent reports said a combination of flu medication and anti-retroviral drugs for Aids was effective in treating patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

At a press conference held yesterday by the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand, Sasisopin Kiertiburanakul from the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, said the combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir had been used for 20 years but was discontinued due to unwanted side-effects. Also, it is too soon to confirm if this combination can actually fight the virus or if it can affect the efficacy of other medications.

Asst Prof Opass Putcharoen, chief of the Centre of Emerging Infectious Diseases, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, said it was important to stop the spread of the disease, and for that people should wear face masks.

“The greater number of infections, the greater the chance of deaths because there are no drugs to fight the virus. We can only treat patients for the symptoms. Those who should be careful are people over 40, and those with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease,” he said.

Risk groups such as tour guides who work with Chinese tourists should also see the doctor if they develop a sore throat or cough. He also advised people to avoid crowded areas, and said it was not necessary to wear a mask unless one has a cough.

However, Khate Sripratak, cardiologist and president of the Chest Disease Institute’s medical staff organisation, said masks were important for protection from both the virus and fine dust.

“The novel coronavirus is new, there’s no cure nor vaccine yet, but we know it spreads fast. It’s true that those who are ill should wear face masks, but we don’t know who is ill,” he said. Not being able to find an N95 face mask himself, Dr Khate said other kinds of masks should also help.

“Some protection is better than nothing,” he said.

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