With the death toll surpassing 300 and more than 14,000 people with confirmed infections according to the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus Outbreak has officially been declared by the United States as a public health emergency. Although people of all ages can be infected by 2019-nCoV, older adults and people with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes or heart disease appear to be more susceptible to becoming seriously ill from the virus.
While travel bans and quarantines are in place to stem the spread of the virus, practicing good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene can help protect individuals from the virus. Covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, using a mask for coughs and washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help prevent illness. (Singing the happy birthday song twice is the perfect amount of time to wash your hands) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Seniors should also avoid close contact with others who are experiencing coughs or fevers. Seek medical care early if you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing. Raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided and good food safety practices used to avoid cross-contamination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019 Novel Coronavirus and no specific antiviral treatment recommended. People who believe they are infected with the virus should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Antibiotics are not effective as a means of preventing or treating Coronavirus but patients who are hospitalized as a result of the virus may develop a bacterial co-infection that requires antibiotic medication. The WHO is currently speeding up research and development of specific treatments for Coronavirus.
Earlier this week, the CDC expanded its screening effort of passengers from China to 20 airports and existing quarantine stations cover all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Cruise Lines will deny boarding to any passenger or employee who has travelled from or through mainland China within the past two weeks. Theme parks in China have also been closed to help stop the spread of the virus.
For live updates on the Coronavirus, follow this link to the New York Times Asia Pacific report.