Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said the virus, called COVID-19 (Coronavirus), is “rapidly evolving and spreading” and that “successful containment at U.S. borders is becoming problematic.” She warned U.S citizens and local communities to prepare for “disruption to everyday life” in the case of a pandemic. As of Feb. 26, there are only 14 cases in the U.S. and 12 were travel-related. With that being said, individual risk is dependent on exposure, and is considered low for those who have not traveled to China recently.
What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a virus strain, identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread, such as was seen with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and is now being seen with COVID-19.
How is it spread? (All information is directly from the CDC)
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in Hubei province and other parts of China. In the United States, spread from person-to-person has occurred only among a few close contacts and has not spread any further to date.
What are the Symptoms?
For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include (CDC):
- Shortness of breath
Precautions to Take:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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.
- Stay home if you are ill (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.
- Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.
- Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and clean their hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%–95% alcohol.
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Face Masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).
There is a lot of misinformation out there, make sure to get updates and information about the Coronavirus from reliable sources like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and Department of Health, which is where all information in this article was pulled from. You can get an updated report of the situation in the US here. It is important that we band together as people, with the common interest of public and global health, rather than fear-mongering and spreading false information. While yes, a new, fast moving virus can be scary, at this time you are far more likely to get the common flu. Take the precautions above to avoid all illnesses in this season, know your facts, and stay healthy.