Home Health Tips COVID-19: Tips to prevent and prepare for the new coronavirus – AL.com

COVID-19: Tips to prevent and prepare for the new coronavirus – AL.com

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A top U.S. public health official warned Americans yesterday to prepare for the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, inside the United States as the number of cases continues to rise.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The term coronavirus refers to a class of viruses that often spread from animals to humans, including SARS, MERS and the common cold. To reduce confusion about this new coronavirus, public health agencies adopted the name COVID-19 to identify the strain that emerged in Wuhan, China in December and has infected at least 78,000 people worldwide, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. So far, 53 cases have been identified in the United States, including 12 from travelers to China, two from close contacts of those travelers and 39 from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship that docked in Japan.

The illness has not yet spread outside of those directly affected by travel to Asia. So the first tip to avoid exposure is to check travel notices posted by the CDC and World Health Organization, which are warning all travelers to avoid nonessential trips to China and South Korea. Caution is also urged for those heading to Italy, Iran, Japan and Hong Kong.

Experts suggest taking the same precautions recommended to prevent the spread of other viruses such as the flu: Washing hands with soap and water, coughing into your elbow and not sharing dishes or utensils. Avoid people who are sick and try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

People with symptoms should stay home. Those who are sick and have traveled to affected areas should see a healthcare provider and notify them of possible exposure.

The CDC does not recommend that healthy people wear facemasks unless they care for patients.

“Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others,” according to the CDC. “The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).”

Alabama public health officials have already announced they are working closely with the CDC to monitor people who have traveled to affected areas. If COVID-19 begins spreading in the United States, public health officials might close schools and business conferences, CDC experts said yesterday. Members of the public should be prepared to avoid travel and crowded places, they said.

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