COVID-19 – First Facts – Top things you need to know

(Supplied/CDC)

FORT WAYNE, In (WOWO): A lot of information has been swirling around the Coronavirus, which is specifically named COVID-19, since the first of the year. As with information there is also misinformation, which is spread rapidly via Social Media and the Internet, which can cause undue panic and fear. This article has some fast facts from the Centers for Disease Control about COVID-19. Health officials stress that this is something to be aware of and concerned about, but not a cause for panic.

What is COVID-19? Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus that was first identified as part of an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Fast Fact: There are four other coronaviruses that have been in existence world-wide for several years. 

Can people in the United States get COVID-19? COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in China, with limited spread among close contacts has been detected in other countries outside of China, including the United States. Currently, the virus is not spreading within communities in the United States. Fast Fact: The greatest risk for infection is for people in China or those who have traveled to China. Risk of infection is dependent upon exposure. Close contacts (such as health care workers) of people who are infected are at greater risk than the public at-large. 

How is COVID-19 spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have emerged from an animal source. There is no confirmation as to which animal or animals it may have originated in, however, it is now spreading from person to person. Fast Fact: Person to person spread can happen on a continuous basis. Some diseases are highly contagious, (such as measles) while other diseases are less so. The ease of spread and sustainability of the virus that causes COVID-19 is undetermined at this time. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Patients with COVID-19 have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Fast Fact: Severe complications from COVID-19 include pneumonia in both lungs. It’s imperative that if you have these symptoms to seek primary care sooner than later for effective treatment. 

What are some things that can be done to prevent COVID-19? The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes avoiding close contact with those who are sick and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and using an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, cleaning surfaces that could be exposed, especially personal electronic devices and computer keyboards, using sanitizing wipes or spray cleaners has proven effective. Fast Fact: Wearing a face mask will not prevent you from exposure to the virus because the pores in the mask are much larger than the virus itself. However, if you have respiratory illness, such a mask will work to help you from spreading it to others. Eye protection (Beyond normal eyeglasses) is much more effective in blocking the virus. 

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should: Stay home if you are sick. Also cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and immediately throw that tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Fast Fact: Common sense is your greatest weapon here. Making sure to use the same procedures you would for the common cold will prove very effective. 

What should you do if you’ve recently traveled to China and become sick? If you have been in China within the past 14 days and exhibit symptoms of a respiratory infection, or if you feel sick, contact your primary care  or health care provider immediately. Tell them about your travel as well as your symptoms in detail. They will provide instruction to you on how to get care without exposing others to your illness. Avoid contact with others, do not travel and don’t go outside of your home. Fast Fact: The faster you contact your medical provider, the better. They can begin treating your symptoms more effectively and this could aid in a faster recovery. 

Is there a vaccine? Although there is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19, there are several countries and companies aggressively pursuing such a vaccine. Until then, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Fast Fact: Even if a vaccine were to enter trials, we would still be several months away from broad application of it. 

The latest information can be accessed through this link to the Centers for Disease Control.

 

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