In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responding to an outbreak of a respiratory disease that was first detected in China and has since been detected around the world. It’s called the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
The virus is transmitted person-to-person. The symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. One patient in five (20%) in the USA requires hospital treatment.
At latest count, 86 per cent of Americans tested are negative (do NOT have the disease). But at least half of the people testing positive (who DO have the disease) showed no symptoms, meaning that they can unknowingly be spreading the disease.
One-quarter (24%) of Americans who have caught this disease have died.
Who is most at risk?
Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions can be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Aged 65 years and older, particularly those living in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
- With chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- With serious heart conditions
- Who are immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, HIV or AIDS, and using corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications
- With severe obesity
- With diabetes
- Undergoing dialysis for chronic kidney disease
- With liver disease.
Best practices to protect you and your family:
- Wash your hands frequently. Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain “social distancing”. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (two arms lengths) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth, which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses.
- If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Stay home if you feel unwell. Seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store. (Young children under age 2 should NOT wear face covering.)
- Facemasks should be used by people with COVID-19 symptoms to prevent the disease spreading.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
At this time, there is NO vaccine to protect against COVID-19, and NO medications approved to treat it. Many tests are being conducted worldwide, but no treatments are proven yet.