Here’s What You Should Know About the Coronavirus
What’s Going on With the Coronavirus Outbreak
You've probably heard about the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared last week to be a "global health emergency".
The flu-like virus has claimed at least 400 lives and infected at least 17,000 people as of this writing. There are 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the U.S., and there is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection, although one is in the works. The State Dept. raised its travel advisory for China from level 3 to level 4, citing the high risk posed by coronavirus. The CDC described it as a "rapidly evolving situation," and with plenty of myths surrounding the outbreak, it can be difficult to get straight to the facts. However, there is reason for optimism.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO's Emergencies Program, believes that the new virus can still be contained, thanks in part to China's vigilant efforts to quarantine infected areas. 2019-nCoV also seems to have lower fatality rates among those infected than the related SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV had during similar previous outbreaks. Despite media hysteria, the unusually severe flu circulating during this 2019-20 season is probably more of an immediate threat to U.S. residents than the new strain of coronavirus. With coronavirus, influenza, and any type of viral disease, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure and go the extra mile with common-sense hygiene.
What to Do to Prevent the Spread of Viral Diseases
Although a 2019-nCoV vaccine isn't yet available, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- 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 hands are visibly dirty.
- 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.
What Not to Do to Prevent the Spread of Viral Diseases
The CDC also has recommendations on what not to do.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Do not travel to China.
- If you absolutely must travel to China:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at higher risk.
- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
- Wash your hands with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Avoid contact with others if you or they have recently been to China and are feeling flu-like symptoms.
- Do not wear face masks, as they have not been proven to be effective.
- Do not discriminate against people of Asian descent as a result of the coronavirus scare.
How SAMI-Aid Can Help
If you are feeling flu-like symptoms, you probably don't have coronavirus. However, with any respiratory illness it's always a good idea to get medical advice and treatment early on, before a worse condition has a chance to develop. SAMI-Aid doctors can treat flus, colds, and a host of other ailments virtually, so patients can receive care from home and avoid exposure to other sick people in waiting rooms. SAMI-Aid membership is free, and our healthcare services are pay-as-you-go, so there are no recurring or hidden fees. It costs $59.99 to speak to a board-certified doctor and $39.99 to speak to a registered nurse. Register for a free account today.