As the Corona Virus spreads around the world, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, your friends, and the people around you.
Currently, if you live in the U.S. the risk of getting the virus remains very low, but public health officials say there will likely be outbreaks in the United States. So this is a good time to start preparing and learning how to stay away from the virus.
Here’s what you need to know to make good decisions to plan, prepare and even prevent the spread of the disease:
1. This virus is contagious, but so far it’s not as deadly as other outbreaks
In China, more than three-quarters of the cases have been classified as mild. Symptoms include low-grade fever and a cough. Some people also experience fatigue, headaches and, less frequently, diarrhea.
Overall, the death rate in China is estimated at 2%, and the average age of death among those with COVID-19 is in the 70s. People with underlying medical problems, and particularly smokers, seem to be at higher risk.
Compared to prior outbreaks of novel viruses, this coronavirus appears less deadly than other human coronaviruses that have spread in recent years. For instance, the death rate was about 34% for MERS and about 10% for SARS.
The flu causes more than 12,000 deaths a year in the U.S. An annual vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu, but there are other strategies to prevent it. So far, there’s no vaccine against the new coronavirus, but some of the same strategies to prevent flu can also protect against coronavirus.
2. To fend off coronavirus, follow flu prevention tips
The top tip: Wash your hands and hand sanitizer. Why? Viruses can spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, close contacts can be infected. In addition, the virus can end up on doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other surfaces. If you touch those surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can become infected.
This is why it’s important to wash all the time.
Here are five more things to remember, per the CDC:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Don’t wear dirty clothes or reuse clothing after going somewhere. Don’t go too dry cleaners or use handheld devices that other people use. For more on how to steam, deodorize, and kill germs in clothes check out InstaSteam.
3. Don’t panic — start preparing
Think about the threat of a possible outbreak in your community the way you’d think about a big snowstorm or a hurricane. If it never hits, great. But if it does, you’ll be glad you prepared.
Don’t hoard, but do stock your cupboards with some extra food and cleaning supplies. Each time you grocery shop, buy a few extra items. Shelf-stable foods such as beans and rice are good options. Also, utilize your freezer to preserve foods, everything from meats and vegetables to cooked grains and bread. Think about having enough on hand to last a few weeks.
- Check the medicine cabinet to ensure you have basic medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Think about a backup plan if schools were to close during an outbreak.
- If you take a daily prescription medication, have as much of supply on hand as possible.
- Ask your employer about a work-from-home option.
4. The uncertainty of masks to prevent illness
Overall, there’s no conclusive evidence that wearing a face mask can help prevent being infected by the virus. And public health officials give mixed messages about usefulness for the general public. As we’ve reported, masks may not fit the face tightly, so you’re still able to breathe in infected droplets. And experts worry that masks can give a false sense of security.
Health care providers are trained to use masks properly, and there’s evidence that they’re effective in clinical settings. For people at home, the CDC recommends using masks in certain situations. For instance, if you’re caring for an infected person at home, the proper use of masks can protect the caregiver.
5. Be smart about travel
The CDC updates its travel advisory information frequently. The federal government uses a four-level scale to rank risk. Level 1 equals the lowest risk, and Level 4, the highest.
For parts of Italy, where there’s been sustained spread of the novel coronavirus, there’s now a Level 4 alert. The CDC advises that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.
Check your health insurance to see if it includes international travel coverage, the CDC recommends. Also, consider travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance. The CDC estimates that without insurance, a medical evacuation can cost $100,000 or more.
If you’ve planned a cruise or overseas travel, consider the possibility of travel disruptions in the event of an outbreak. Also try to avoid the dry cleaning services and using the in-room irons. The best solution for steaming and dry cleaning clothing now is InstaSteam.