Now that The Coronavirus, COVID-19 has arrived with two diagnosed cases in the state of Minnesota, it's all a little more real than it was over the past few weeks. With that, here are eight things that we all need to know about COVID-19 and coronaviruses as they become a part of our life for the foreseeable future...
- Cough, muscle aches, unexplained fever, shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Is COVID-19 just the flu?
- Simply put, no. COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza but it is more severe than seasonal influenza. There are some people throughout the world that have developed immunity to seasonal flus, since COVID-19 is a new virus no one has immunity so more people are susceptible and there is presently no vaccine
Is it dangerous to open packages from China?
- Typically, coronaviruses are spread via respiratory droplets and they do not survive long on objects such as packages and letters.
Can COVID-19 infect pets?
- Coronaviruses are zoonotic, BUT there is no evidence yet that COVID-19 can pass on to pets like cats and dogs.
Should you be afraid to fly?
- It's not necessary to fear flying in general. While airports do expose you to a higher number of people from difference places in the world the filtered air on airplanes generally removes the virus from the air. You would be advised to turn on the air nozzle full blast for the duration of the flight as the air stream alone could deflect respiratory droplets. If you are suffering from a cough, you are advised not to fly.
Should you stock up on food?
- If the outbreak continues to spread here in the United States there will be recommended quarantines that could result in people being held home from school, work and public events. If that worsens, leaving quarantine could result in exposure to the virus. In that case, it is recommended by some officials to have a 2-3 supply of meds, non-perishable food items and household goods. Some supplies like bottled water, paper products and hand sanitizers are already in short supply.
How is it treated?
- There is presently no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 at this time. If diagnosed you'll be advised to drink fluids, get rest and you may be prescribed pain or fever medication.
Should you wear a facemask?
- Current recommendations from the CDC suggest wearing a facemask if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suffering from a fever and cough to help prevent transmission to others. There is not enough evidence as of now to show any benefit to wearing a mask if you are healthy as surgical masks are not airtight and do not fully prevent breathing in particles. Instead of wearing a mask medical professionals recommend washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds, using alcohol based hand rub, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, practice cough etiquette.
Sources: Nerdist, World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control