What You Need To Know About the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are viruses that generally
attack the respiratory tract. They’re similar to influenza and there are a
number of different corona viruses some of which we have routinely here in the
United States. But over the years, we’ve seen these novel coronaviruses starting
with SARS several decades ago, more recently that started in Asia, then we
had MERS which we still have starting in the Middle East and more recently just
at the end of December a new novel coronavirus called 2019 Novel
Coronavirus, originated in Wuhan China. It causes a flu-like illness, you really
can’t distinguish it from influenza and most patients have a fever, cough and shortness of breath – would be the initial symptoms and it could progress to
pneumonia or more severe respiratory disease. in terms of the Novel Coronavirus, if you have those symptoms and you’ve been in China in the last two
weeks, then again stay home, but first call your health care provider and talk
to them about the symptoms and if you’re having severe illness then you would
need to be seen, but you should call ahead. These respiratory viruses,
not only the Novel Coronavirus, but influenza and others are spread first by
droplets, that is by people coughing and sneezing, generally within six feet and
certainly by direct contact, meaning touching hands and then touching your
nose without performing a hand hygiene. We don’t really know exactly what the
risks are, that’s because we don’t really have an estimate of how many people have been infected, so we don’t know what percentage of people will go on to have
severe disease, severe pneumonia, sepsis and die, but certainly, people have died
of this virus as do for flu and other viruses. This virus is distinct microbiologically,
that is, under an electron microscope or the way you grow, it’s not at all
related to influenza, but in terms of symptoms it’s exactly the same. First of all, it’s not too late to get
your flu shot! Flu is a much bigger risk, particularly in the United States than
this virus, so go get your flu shot. Second of all, if you’re sick and you
have any respiratory virus, stay home and don’t infect the rest of your colleagues
and friends. If you are outside, you follow what we call respiratory
etiquette—which means if you’re coughing and sneezing, take a tissue and cover
your nose and your mouth. That dramatically decreases the spray of
these infectious droplets and reduces other people’s risk. And then finally
hand hygiene, because many people touch their face quite commonly, so whenever
you touch your face or if you’re out in public, perform hand hygiene, simple soap and water works perfectly well, if not any of the FDA approved alcohol
antiseptics will work perfectly well. This is what we call an envelope virus,
it’s not particularly stable and so it can be removed from the hands by good
hand hygiene and if you are sick and you do have to come into a health care
facility asked to get a mask and put that on and try and sit six feet away
from other people, again, so you don’t transmit the virus.

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