The outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a new virus that was first detected in China is all over the news channels and internet pages. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated to “COVID-19”). The situation is changing daily and we have all been bombarded with information – and maybe misinformation – about what we should do to protect ourselves from this new global threat. Unfortunately, because of the rapidly developing nature of the outbreak, anything we write in our blog is likely to be out of date by the time you read it. For this reason, we recommend that you check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, which is updated in real time with information about COVID-19.
At the time of this writing, the CDC reports that symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure and cause illness that ranges from mild to severe and even death. You should call your doctor if you develop symptoms or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19.
There is currently no vaccine to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- 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
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wearing a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19
- Facemasks 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)
- 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