We are being bombarded by news reports of the outbreak of coronavirus, now identified as COVID-19. What is the coronavirus, how is it spread, how serious is it, and how do we avoid it? The following information is condensed from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
How COVID-19 Spreads
Much is unknown about how COVID-19, a new coronavirus, spreads. Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people. Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest.
For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.
Prevention & Treatment
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
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.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms in order to protect others.
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.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
This is a fluid situation which changes daily. The CDC website provides good current information.
Courtesy of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Pacific Southwest District