A coronavirus outbreak in China (now known as COVID-19) has recently attracted global attention. It comes from the seafood and meat market in Wuhan, China in December. It has since spread to other countries, including the United States.
Although Wuhan is isolated from other cities in China, COVID-19 has spread to nearly 70 locations internationally. In the United States, cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in New York, California, Oregon, and Washington. Deaths have been reported in Washington State and California.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a virus found in animals that rarely spreads from animals to humans and then from person to person. In addition to COVID-19, other human coronaviruses include:
MERS virus or Middle East respiratory syndrome.
SARS virus or severe acute respiratory syndrome first occurred in Guangdong Province in southern China.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to severe. It takes 2-14 days after exposure to develop symptoms. Symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath
Those with weak immune systems may experience more severe symptoms, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Symptoms may never occur after exposure to COVID-19. To date, most confirmed cases have been among adults, but some children have been infected. There is no evidence that children are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
What causes a coronavirus infection?
Humans first obtain coronaviruses through contact with animals. It can then spread from person to person. Health officials do not know what animal caused COVID-19.
The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through contact with certain body fluids, such as droplets in a cough. It may also be because you touch something the infected person has touched and then touch your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes.
How is coronavirus diagnosed?
If you think you have COVID-19, you should contact your family doctor immediately. Before going to the doctor’s office, call to resolve your issue. This will allow the office to gather information and guide you on the next steps. To diagnose your condition, your doctor may perform tests to rule out other common infections. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you isolate yourself to prevent the infection from spreading.
Can coronavirus be prevented or avoided?
Try to avoid people who are sick or in meetings. If you are sick, stay home.
Cover the cough with a paper towel or squeeze the cough into your upper sleeve or elbow. Don’t cough into your hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. If your hands are dirty, always wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued travel advisories for several affected countries. If you are going to an area where COVID-19 is present, consult your doctor.
Coronavirus How you can protect yourself
Illustration: Washing hands with soap and water
Clean your hands often
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially in public places or blowing noses, coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until you feel dry.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Illustration: Woman is isolated to her home
Avoid close contact with people
Avoid close contact with sick people
If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, keep away from others. This is especially important for people who are extremely susceptible to illness.
Take steps to protect others
Man in bed
Please stay home when you are sick
If you are sick, stay at home unless you need medical care.
Cover up coughing and sneezing
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbows.
Throw used paper towels in the trash.
Wash your hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand soap with an alcohol content of at least 60% to clean your hands.
Always wear a mask when you are sick
If sick: Wear a mask when you are with someone else (for example, sharing a room or car), and before entering the provider’s office. If you can’t wear a mask (for example, it can cause breathing difficulties), try to cover your cough and sneeze, and if your caregiver enters your room, wear a mask. Learn what to do if you’re sick.
If you are not sick: You do not need to wear a mask unless you are taking care of someone who is sick (they cannot wear a mask). Masks may be in short supply and should be kept in reserve for care.
Cleaning and disinfection
Clean and disinfect frequently contacted surfaces daily. This includes tables, door handles, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, bathrooms, faucets and sinks.
If the surfaces are dirty, clean them: use detergent or soap and water before disinfecting.
Coronavirus Cure or therapy
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Coronavirus symptoms usually go away on their own. If your symptoms feel worse than a common cold, contact your doctor. He or she may have prescribed painkillers or fever pills.
As with a cold or flu, drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. If breathing is difficult, consult a doctor immediately.
Avoid contact with others when you are sick. If you have COVID-19, wear a mask to prevent the virus from spreading to others. If you do not have COVID-19, the CDC does not recommend wearing a mask.