As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, news arrives at a rapid and furious rate. But don't let the volume panic you and your loved ones.
"The mantra is," Keep calm and keep going, "said Dr. Marguerite Neill, an infectious disease specialist at Brown University.
Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the coronavirus epidemic and its symptoms.
What symptoms should I look for?
Common symptoms of this infection include fever, dry cough, tiredness and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. The disease causes lung damage and pneumonia. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and blocked sinuses are less common.
Patients may also have gastrointestinal issues or diarrhea, and Dr. Neill said that we learn different symptoms as we go along. Most people get sick five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms can appear in as little as two days or up to 14 days.
In some cases, people who seemed stable deteriorated rapidly during the second week; everyone infected needs careful monitoring.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the following symptoms - if you are in good health - should prompt you to seek emergency treatment.
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Confusion or inability to arouse
Bluish lips or face
Any other serious or worrying symptom
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you think you are sick from the new coronavirus, you can help protect your loved ones and your community first staying at homeexcept to get medical attention.
The current CDC advice recommends calling a health care professional if you notice any symptoms.
Live or have traveled to an area with a known coronavirus outbreak
Have had close contact with someone who has traveled to an area affected by an epidemic
Have had close contact with anyone infected.
Do not rush to the emergency room - it is probably filled with very sick people and overworked staff and doctors.
When you call your doctor, he will tell you if you need to enter. If you do, calling ahead will help the doctor prepare for your visit and help prevent the spread of the virus to other people in the office. Make sure you wear a mask when you go to the doctor's office and when you are with other people. If you can't find a mask, you can create a makeshift one from a scarf or t-shirt.
le CDC also suggests that you avoid public transportation, carpooling, and taxis; and that you separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as soon as possible. This means not letting anyone enter your room and, ideally, not sharing the bathrooms. Others should be more than three feet from you and avoid any surface on which you could cough or touch, including doorknobs, plates, cups and napkins. Sanitize the environment as much as possible.
Many state health services have set up hotlines for people who want more information, but long wait times have been reported. Ultimately, specific coronavirus test centers could be created.
It is very possible that even if you have the virus, you will never be tested for that. It is frustrating for people who have symptoms and want to know if they should isolate themselves and tell their friends about the exposure.
What if someone in my family gets sick?
Follow the same steps listed above if you think your children, or anyone in your household, may be infected. Children infected with the new coronavirus tend to have mild or non-existent symptoms, and it is not known how easily they spread the disease to other people.
High risk patients should consult their doctor as soon as they develop symptoms. A doctor who knows your situation can help you navigate the system and advise you how and when to seek treatment. High-risk patients include the elderly as well as those with asthma or lung disease or with a history of pneumonia, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, a weakened immune system due to a illness or medication, or someone who has recently been treated. for cancer.
How does this compare to the flu?
The coronavirus appears to be more deadly than seasonal flu and quite contagious. Initial estimates of the coronavirus death rate in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated, were around 2%, while seasonal flu, on average, kills around 0,1% of those infected. But children seem to be more affected by the flu.
In contrast, the 1918 flu had an unusually high death rate, over 2%. Because it was so contagious, the flu killed tens of millions of people.
How does the virus spread?
The new coronavirus seems to spread very easily, especially in confined spaces such as homes, hospitals, churches and cruise ships. It appears to spread through droplets in the air and on the surfaces of a cough or sneeze.
Whether a surface looks dirty or clean doesn't matter. If an infected person coughs and a droplet lands on a surface, a person who touches that surface may become ill.
A study of other coronaviruses found that they stayed on metal, glass and plastic for two hours for nine days. But there is good news: the virus is relatively easy to destroy with a simple disinfectant or bleach.
Droplets may settle on the surface of latex gloves. Some experts suggest wearing cloth or leather gloves that absorb the droplets and are large enough to discourage you touch your face.
Will the virus go away in summer?
It's still unknown. It is a new virus, and everyone would be susceptible.
Transmission of influenza decreases in warm weather each year, and the SARS coronavirus appeared in winter and was eliminated the following June. But SARS was beaten by aggressive containment measures, not by the weather. The four mild coronaviruses that cause common colds still circulate in hot weather and cause "summer colds".
During the influenza pandemics of 1918 and 2009, there was a second wave in the fall.
Is there a cure? What about a vaccine?
There is no approved antiviral drug for coronavirus, although many are being tested. For the moment, doctors can only recommend the usual remedies for any viral illness: rest, medicines to reduce pain and fever, and liquids to avoid dehydration.
Coronavirus patients with pneumonia may also need oxygen and a ventilator if breathing problems get worse. Some patients who appear to behave well have an "accident" during the second week of illness.
An experimental coronavirus vaccine may be ready for human testing within a few months. But even if it is approved, it will take much longer, at least a year, before it is available for widespread use. Meanwhile, experts urge people and their children get the flu shot.
My partner / friend / parent / child is very worried. Is that bad?
This virus can be fatal. There is a reason why government officials and medical experts around the world are issuing strong warnings.
About 80% of victims will recover without needing hospitalization. However, cases classified as "mild" by Chinese CDC included those who suffered from "mild pneumonia", which means that there is fluid in the lungs but not enough to require additional oxygen or intensive care. The other categories are "severe", which means that oxygen or ventilation is necessary, and "critical", which means pulmonary or organic insufficiency.
It is important to keep these distinctions in mind, both to avoid unnecessary panic and to have a clear picture of the likelihood of transmission.
OKAY. So why are the experts so concerned?
Unlike other lighter coronaviruses, many dead.
The number of completely symptom-free cases is unclear, as some people test positive a day or two before they develop symptoms. The World Health Organization estimates that only about 1% of people with the virus never develop fever or other symptoms.
I still have a lot of questions.
We understand. The coronavirus has changed our lives so much this year. Take a look at the special section of the Times on Frequently Asked Questions and Tips. We have answers to common questions about health, money, everyday life, politics, science and travel.
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