As hardly a day goes by without the coronavirus dominating the headlines, many people are rightfully concerned and wondering what steps they should take to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Although taking precautions is important, Dr. Jonathan T. Truong, an infectious disease physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, notes it’s important not to overreact.
“The coronavirus should be a cause of concern, but not alarm or panic,” Truong said. “The quarantine process of people who are being evacuated from China has been effective in controlling the spreading of the disease in America. As such, we need to keep things in perspective.”
According to Truong noted there have been no deaths in the US so far resulting from the coronavirus. In contrast, he said between 200,000 and 400,000 Americans get hospitalized due to complications form the flu each year, and as many as 60,000 die.
“We know that influenza is infectious and it kills, and we have a vaccine for it – let’s focus on that!” he said. “It’s important to be aware of coronavirus, but we have an opportunity to help prevent 50,000 to 60,000 deaths a year with a flu shot. Despite that, only about half of the US population gets vaccinated.”
The chances of contracting the coronavirus are slim if you havbe not recently traveled to China, or been in close contact with a person infected by the disease.
Simple precautions such as washing your hands frequently with soap or alcohol-based gel, not touching your eyes, mouth or face, cooking your food thoroughly, and keeping a distance of at least six feet from anyone who has a respiratory illness will help protect your health, Dr. Truong said.
The symptoms of coronavirus symptoms include coughing, fever, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. People exhibiting these symptoms should seek medical treatment.
“If you’re sick, wear a mask so you don’t spread it,” Truong said. “If you need to see a doctor, it’s best to call ahead. We want to be prepared to prioritize your case, and avoid spreading infection to other patients.”
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