With the Coronavirus taking the nation by storm, it can be hard to determine which sources to trust in providing accurate and timely information about the virus. Here is what you need to know to stay safe and healthy.

What is the Coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause symptoms that range from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). While other versions of the Coronavirus have previously circulated in humans, this current outbreak is of a novel type of the virus, designated “COVID-19.” The virus was first reported in the city of Wuhan, China this past December and is believed to have jumped from animals to humans.

Should I be worried about getting the Coronavirus?
According to public health authorities, the virus is becoming wide-spread and a pandemic is likely.  Most people who become infected will experience the symptoms as a cold or flu-like illness lasting days to weeks, and will not require specific medical attention.  People with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, COPD or other respiratory compromise, and cancer, are at greater risk of more severe illness.  

What is my prognosis if I get the Coronavirus?
Symptoms are mild for most people and include fever, cough, and nasal congestion.  However, some people can develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia or dehydration. Only in rare situations is the disease fatal. Individuals who are older in age and have pre-existing medical conditions (see above) are more susceptible to severe symptoms or poor outcomes. You may start seeing symptoms 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

How does the virus spread? How can I avoid contracting the virus?
The Coronavirus spreads in the same way that the cold and flu are transmitted, by breathing in or coming in contact with surfaces that contain airborne droplet particles containing the virus. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, do not shake hands or touch your face, avoid close contact with those who are ill and most importantly, wash your hands with soap and water frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends disinfecting surfaces around your work or home. It is very important that if you are feeling sick, you should stay home to help prevent transmission of illness to others. Hospitals have been preparing for weeks by managing supplies and equipment, protecting their staff and patients, reviewing surge protocol, and speaking with the CDC and state health officials.

Will wearing a facemask help prevent me from getting the Coronavirus?
The CDC does not recommend that people who are feeling well wear facemasks. The Surgeon General is urging the public to stop buying masks, as they are “not effective in preventing [the] general public from catching the Coronavirus,” and it can limit the supply of masks that are available for health care professionals. However, if you are showing symptoms of the Coronavirus you should wear a mask to prevent from catching the virus.

What should I do if I think I may have the Coronavirus?
Better Health Advisors interviewed Dr. Mark Melrose, an Emergency Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer, who stated, “Do not go to the emergency room for routine symptoms. Stay home and take Tylenol or ibuprofen for your fever, and drink lots of fluids.  Anyone who has difficulty breathing, fever greater than 102.5, or inability to eat or drink should consult a physician as soon as possible after becoming ill.”

Will the outbreak stop with the warmer months of the year?
Unlike the flu and common cold which spread more during the winter season because people stay indoors more, it is not known whether warmer weather will quell the spread of the Coronavirus.

Where can I get real time, accurate health updates on the virus?
The best source for updates on the Coronavirus is the CDC. You can also rely on information from the World Health Organization or regional academic hospitals and medical center websites. See our recent newsletter on top medical websites for more reliable sources.eeded/adds value to the newsletter.

For more information, contact Better Health Advisors.