The news and secondary social media coverage about the Wuhan Chinese Coronavirus, raises concerns, even scaring a lot of people to the edge of panic and anxiety. And while it’s very important to stay aware, the fact is that in the U.S., unless you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China or have been in close contact with someone who has – your risk is considered “low” at this point. Hearing and seeing all the information, it makes sense to be concerned, but don’t panic.
It’s important to stay aware – to understand the precautions while remaining vigilant and alert to possibilities of warnings and situations changing. Much is still unknown and health officials are urging vigilance in exercising some of the same kinds of preventive measures used to avoid influenza and other illnesses.
DR. NINA’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Wuhan Coronavirus – Staying Aware & Proactive
While any new virus is a serious public health concern, the immediate health risk of spreading widely in the U.S. is deemed low at this point. However, this outbreak is not expected to disappear soon. Teams of U.S. health agencies, experts, public health authorities, the medical community along with emergency preparedness partners and related associations are actively managing efforts and preparing for an outbreak that could be heightened for months.
In the United States – You’re in Good Hands – Stay Informed and Proactive.
The U.S. is a world leader in managing public health concerns and staying informed will help each of us move wisely through the coming days. The ultimate scope and effect of this outbreak is unclear, as the situation is rapidly evolving. The U.S. has a market-leading disease surveillance network and outbreak management system, essential for fast-moving, rapidly changing public health issues. Our outbreak management teams operate assertive actions to protect our public health by identifying the sources and implementing control measures to prevent further spread or recurrence of the infection. Actions include securely tracking patients infected with or exposed to communicable diseases such as Ebola, Zika, measles – and now, the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Referred to as the Wuhan China Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – along with the network of U.S. public health agencies and integrated health teams – are taking firm measures to protect the U.S. public health. Moment-by-moment this network closely monitors the outbreak and the Incident Management System is coordinating domestic and international responses for your protection underscoring to the public, “it’s a time for vigilance, not panic.”
The CDC has already created a diagnostic test which they plan to provide to state and local facilities to expedite testing. Travel warnings are issued, airport screenings and re-entry to U.S have been expanded while developing potential vaccines and drug treatments for the disease are underway to help stem the spread.
In the face of reassurances in the U.S. and too, issued warnings, we all need to be careful about virus prevention. I urge everyone to follow recommendations for avoiding respiratory viral infection:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid contact with people who 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.
- Get a flu shot (if you haven’t already!).
- Stay home if you are sick – particularly if experiencing flu symptoms or, running a fever.
- If someone you know is being observed – make a caring call, send a card or message—they’ll let you know when they are clear from being contagious
People get sick this time of year, but it’s unlikely they have the new coronavirus. So be cautious not to become overly alarmed when someone sneezes or coughs. Too, it’s important to talk with our children and to share with them not to stigmatize those that may be assumed to have connections to China.
While this Wuhan Coronavirus dominates headlines, as a medical physician I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very active and dangerous virus in our communities now, influenza— the flu! Wuhan Coronavirus cases are low in the U.S. however, the flu this year is estimated upwards to 250,000 hospitalizations with 20,000 deaths, nationwide.
The Wuhan Coronavirus is a potentially serious public health threat and while at this point, in the U.S. the risk is deemed low – stay aware, informed and proactive to get credible information while taking precautions and preventive measures to avoid influenza and other illnesses.
Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures.
She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.