The following information is being shared with our members to help answer some of the questions you may have about the ongoing epidemic of COVID19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). While the information here is a summary of the information available today, we strongly advise you to visit the web page of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html for latest detailed information on any question you may have.
CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID19)
What is COVID19?
COVID19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus, that began in China and has spread to many locations throughout the world including US.
How serious is it?
The severity of COVID19 ranges from very mild to severe illness resulting in death. It appears to have a higher death rate than the annual influenza epidemics, particularly among the people in the high-risk populations.
Who is at high risk of developing severe illness?
Older adults, and people with serious chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart problems or lung illness are at higher risk of developing serious illness and complications. More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/index.html for people in high-risk populations.
How does COVID19 spread?
The coronavirus causing COVID19 spreads through two main mechanisms:
- Directly when in close contact with (within 6 feet of) an infected person as the viruses are spread through air when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes, or
- By touching a surface where the virus landed and then touching one’s face, nose or mouth, or another person, with the contaminated hand.
Is there a vaccine that can protect against COVID19?
At this time, a vaccine is NOT available to prevent COVID19 infection.
How does the COVID19 infection manifest?
Infected persons may develop fever, cough and or shortness of breath within 2-14 days of the exposure. Most people may have only mild symptoms. In severe cases, the disease may progress to cause pneumonia, kidney failure or death.
Is there a treatment for COVID19 infection?
There is no treatment for COVID19 infection other than supportive measures for symptoms of the infection (like fever and cough).
What to do if I have symptoms?
(Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html for the latest information and more detailed instructions).
Call a doctor if you have these symptoms if you have been in contact with an infected person or recently returned from an area with ongoing community infection.
Stay Home; Avoid Public Areas; Avoid Public Transportation
Wear a Facemask to prevent spreading the infection
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Stay away from other household members and pets
Clean your hands often with soap and water or a hand sanitizer
Ask your healthcare provider to alert the health department.
How can we avoid the infection?
Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or use a hand sanitizer.
Disinfect all high-touch surfaces frequently
Avoid close contact with infected people
Maintain distances with other people if your community has a high infection rate.
Ensure you have medications and other essentials at home in case you are restricted from leaving your home
If you have an option to work from home, please utilize the option if the infection is spreading in the community.
Do I need to wear a Facemask?
Facemasks are not recommended for people without the infection. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
What about travel?
Currently, there are no travel restrictions within the United States. There are some international areas that are considered high risk and travel advisories in place for travel to China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Hongkong as of March 12.
In general, travel or contact with large groups should be minimized to reduce the risk of getting or spreading the infection. Your decision to travel should be based on the following considerations:
- Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
- Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip?
Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded settings, particularly closed-in settings with little air circulation, if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
- Are you or your travel companion(s) at higher risk of severe illness if you do get COVID-19?
CDC recommends that travelers at higher risk for COVID-19 complications avoid all cruise travel and nonessential air travel.
- Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, COVID-19?
- Do you live with someone who is older or has a severe chronic health condition?
- Is COVID-19 spreading where you live?
For up to date information on travel advisories, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
We urge all our members to keep abreast of the latest information about the illness and take all necessary precautions to minimize their exposure to the illness. We sincerely hope that the spread of this virus is contained quickly and conditions return to normal.
Prepared by Dr. V. Chowdary Jampala, Director and Past-President, TANA.