As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread and people's fears grow, The Doctors share important information on symptoms, how to prevent becoming infected and what to do if you are sick.
There are currently 10,000 coronavirus cases (mostly in Wuhan, China with reports of 130 cases in 22 other countries) and it has claimed the lives of 200 people. In America, there have been just 7 confirmed cases of the virus (as of January 31, 2020).
Symptoms of Coronavirus
According to The CDC, people infected have ranged from having little or no symptoms to others who are severely ill. Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms have appeared in as little as 2 days after exposure to as long as 14 days.
How Coronavirus Is Spread
Coronavirus is believed to be spread person-to-person through close contact, according to the CDC. This usually occurs via respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The CDC notes, "It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes." The CDC also states, "There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing."
Coronavirus Prevention and Treatment
Currently, there is no coronavirus vaccine, and the CDC says the best way to prevent infection is avoiding being exposed. The CDC suggests preventive actions used to stop the spread of respiratory viruses may help. These include:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not accessible
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Minimize or avoid exposure to sick people
- Stay home if you are sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then dispose of the tissue
- Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are often handled
Should you consider wearing a face mask to prevent possible infection?
The CDC currently only recommends the use of a face mask for those who are sick with the virus or believe they could be infected, and for those who live with sick individuals or care for them. Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said face masks for most people are not necessary.
At the current time, there is no treatment for coronavirus, says the CDC. If you believe you have coronavirus, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
What to Do If Infected or Believe You Are Infected
The CDC warns if you were in China in the last 14 days and have symptoms to seek medical attention right away and alert the hospital or doctor before you arrive in order to minimize the risk of spreading the infection.
If you are currently infected, the CDC says these steps should be followed:
- Stay home except to get medical care
- Separate yourself from other people in your home
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor
- Wear a facemask
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Wash your hands
- Avoid sharing household items
- Monitor your symptoms
- Avoid contact with pets and other animals