The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus is all over the news. Let’s go over some facts about the outbreak and what it means to you. First, this specific new virus is called 2019-nCoV. It originated from bats, however it has been reported and confirmed to spread from person to person. Initial cases were reported in Wuhan, China and there are approximately 3,000 confirmed cases. Recently, there have been reported cases in the United States in major airports in Washington, California, Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts and Wisconsin. These are in individuals that have recently traveled to China or been in close contact with infected people. Currently it is not spreading within the United States cities and communities.
There are two main criteria that should prompt testing for Coronavirus based on the Centers of Disease Control (CDC):
- The person has a fever AND symptoms of a lower respiratory tract infection such as a cough or difficulty breathing.
- Within the past 14 days prior to symptoms had traveled to Wuhan, China OR been in close contact with a person under investigation for Coronavirus
The CDC has listed travel advisory and can be found on their website below. Additionally, the United States government has suspended entry of foreign nationals who have been in China in the past 14 days. U.S. citizens and residents that have visited China in the past 14 days are being allowed to reenter the United States, however they may be subject to health screening, monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days.
How can you protect yourself?
Since there is currently no vaccine to prevent the 2019 Coronavirus, aside from avoiding exposure, simple hand washing precautions are the single most effective ways to prevent the spread, this includes:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
Other ways to stay healthy include:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The main take home message is to be educated about the virus and avoid travel to effected areas currently. There is still much to be learned about the virus and to stay up to date on information please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/index.html