How to Prevent & Prepare for the Coronavirus

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 1899 | Date: 04-Mar-2020

As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family."I told my children that while I didn't think that they were at risk right now, we, as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives," says Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Currently, if you live in the U.S. the risk of getting the virus remains very low, but public health officials say there will likely be outbreaks in the United States


What is coronavirus (COVID-19) and how can I prepare?

Ways To Prevent And Prepare For The Coronavirus

As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

"I told my children that while I didn't think that they were at risk right now, we, as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives," says Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, if you live in the U.S. the risk of getting the virus remains very low, but public health officials say there will likely be outbreaks in the United States. So this is a good time to review your emergency game plan.

Here's what you need to know to make good decisions to plan, prepare and even prevent the spread of the disease.

A new respiratory virus called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19 is making headlines for causing an outbreak of respiratory illness throughout the world. The outbreak began in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and quickly spread internationally – including to the United States. Thousands of people have become sick and public health officials are keeping a close watch on how the virus is spreading.

Intermountain is also watching the situation. Out of an abundance of caution we’re prepared to support our communities should the situation worsen and we’ll continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19):

What is a coronavirus?
What's different about the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
How are coronaviruses spread?
What are the signs and symptoms of coronaviruses?
How can I protect myself from coronaviruses?
What do I do if I'm sick and think I've been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Additional resources about coronavirus (COVID-19) and other coronaviruses?

What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are actually common throughout the world and can cause respiratory illness in people and animals. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe illness — Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. 

What's different about coronavirus (COVID-19)?
While coronaviruses are common, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that had previously not been identified in humans. The key features of COVID-19 are respiratory symptoms with a fever and cough. Like all new infections, understanding COVID-19 is important and changes rapidly. The CDC is proactively monitoring the virus and taking measures like providing guidance for health care workers and issuing travel recommendations.

How are coronaviruses spread?
An investigation of the COVID-19 is still ongoing but other human coronaviruses are spread through person-to-person contact. Similar to cold and flu, a person becomes sick through close contact with an infected person. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person through coughing and sneezing or by touching surfaces with the virus on them. 

What are the signs and symptoms of coronaviruses?
In confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath and the severity has ranged from mild to people being severely ill. Currently, if you haven’t traveled to an infected region as defined by the CDC or been in close contact with someone known to have the virus, your risk is very low.

In other coronaviruses, common signs of infection include:

runny nose
headache
cough
sore throat
fever
a general feeling of being unwell

How can I protect myself from coronaviruses?
The best way to protect yourself from contracting coronaviruses is by using the same daily habits that help prevent the spread of many viruses, including the common cold and the flu. To help prevent the spread of disease always:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Wash with soap and warm water for 15 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Stay home when you’re sick (and keep sick children home from school).
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What do I do if I'm sick and think I've been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19)?
It’s important to remember if you haven’t traveled to an infected region as defined the CDC or been in close contact with someone known to have the virus, your risk of contracting COVID-19 is very low. However, the CDC recommends if you’ve traveled to an infected region within the last 14 days or were in close contact with someone confirmed to have the infection and begin to feel sick with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, seek medical care. Before you go to the doctor, call ahead and let them know about your travel and symptoms to limit potential exposure to others and avoid spreading the virus.

Please wear a mask in our facilities and around other people if you have a fever, are coughing, sneezing, have a runny nose, or are having difficulty breathing. Please also consider using Intermountain's Connect Care service on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to connect with an Intermountain clinician and receive specific care recommendations.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing. For the most up-to-date news and travel advisories, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.



5 Ways To Prevent And Prepare For The Coronavirus
A Guide: How To Prepare Your Home For Coronavirus
1. This virus is contagious, but so far it's not as deadly as other outbreaks

In China, more than three-quarters of the cases have been classified as mild. Symptoms include low-grade fever and a cough. Some people also experience fatigue, headaches and, less frequently, diarrhea.

Overall, the death rate in China is estimated at 2%, and the average age of death among those with COVID-19 is in the 70s. People with underlying medical problems, and particularly smokers, seem to be at higher risk.

Compared to prior outbreaks of novel viruses, this coronavirus appears less deadly than other human coronaviruses that have spread in recent years. For instance, the death rate was about 34% for MERS and about 10% for SARS.

The flu causes more than 12,000 deaths a year in the U.S. An annual vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu, but there are other strategies to prevent it. So far, there's no vaccine against the new coronavirus, but some of the same strategies to prevent flu can also protect against coronavirus.


2. To fend off coronavirus, follow flu prevention tips

The top tip: Wash your hands. Why? Viruses can spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, close contacts can be infected. In addition, the virus can end up on doorknobs, elevator buttons and other surfaces. If you touch those surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can become infected.

This is why it's important to wash rigorously. Here's the CDC's guidance.

"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."

"Americans are friendly. We not only shake hands, we also hug. These are ways we can transmit the virus," says Rebecca Katz, who directs the Center for Global Health Science and Security. She recommends an elbow bump. Or, you can try these no-touch salutations that NPR's Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, and I demonstrate.

Here are five more things to remember, per the CDC:

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.

3. Don't panic — start to prepare

"This is not the time to panic, but it is a time to prepare — good old fashioned preparedness planning for your family," says Katz.

Think about the threat of a possible outbreak in your community the way you'd think about a big snowstorm or a hurricane. If it never hits, great. But if it does, you'll be glad you prepared.

Don't hoard, but do stock your cupboards with some extra food and cleaning supplies. Each time you grocery shop, buy a few extra items. Shelf-stable foods such as beans and rice are good options. Also, utilize your freezer to preserve foods, everything from meats and vegetables to cooked grains and bread. Think about having enough on hand to last a few weeks.

Check the medicine cabinet to ensure you have basic medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Think about a backup plan if schools were to close during an outbreak.
If you take a daily prescription medication, have as much of a supply on hand as possible.
Ask your employer about a work-from-home option.
"If there's widespread virus in your community, you may not want to go to the [store]. You may want to distance yourself from others," Katz says.

4. The uncertainty of masks to prevent illness

Overall, there's not conclusive evidence that wearing a face mask can help prevent being infected by the virus. And public health officials give mixed messages about usefulness for the general public. As we've reported, masks may not fit the face tightly, so you're still able to breathe in infected droplets. And experts worry that masks can give a false sense of security.

Health care providers are trained to use masks properly, and there's evidence that they're effective in clinical settings. For people at home, the CDC recommends using masks in certain situations. For instance, if you're caring for an infected person at home, the proper use of masks can protect the caregiver.

5. Be smart about travel

The CDC updates its travel advisory information frequently. The federal government uses a four-level scale to rank risk. Level 1 equals the lowest risk, and Level 4, the highest.

For parts of Italy, where there's been sustained spread of the novel coronavirus, there's now a Level 4 alert. The CDC advises that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel. "Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and clean their hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol."

Check your health insurance to see if it includes international travel coverage, the CDC recommends. Also, consider travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance. The CDC estimates that without insurance, a medical evacuation can cost $100,000 or more.

If you've planned a cruise or overseas travel, consider the possibility of travel disruptions in the event of an outbreak. "Think about the consequences of being caught on ship or over a border when decisions are being made" that could limit or disrupt your travel without much warning, says Christopher Mores of The George Washington University. If you were quarantined, what would your backup plan be for your work and family responsibilities back home? This is something to consider.

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