The coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the globe, causing travel restrictions, uncertainty in world markets, and widespread public concern. This coronavirus (COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan Province, China in 2019 through animal to human contact, is now spreading through person-to-person contact.

How Far Has it Spread?

According to the WHO, as of February 27, 2020, there are 82,294 cases confirmed including 78,630 in China and 3664 outside of China, spanning 46 countries. The United States has 60 confirmed case, including 42 who contracted the illness while on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 3 Americans repatriated from Wuhan Province, China, 14 who have recently been to China or are related to people who recently returned from China, and 1 patient who contracted the virus through unknown means (source). The virus has been responsible for 2747 deaths within China and 57 deaths elsewhere

How Bad is the Threat?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the potential public health threat is high both globally and within the United States, and the risk to individuals is dependent on exposure.  For those in the U.S. who are not likely to be exposed to the virus, the risk is considered low.  Those in contact with people who have the virus are at greater risk.  As this virus is new to humans, there is a lot about it that is still unknown.  Cases have ranged from mild to severe, with some resulting in death.

How Does it Spread?

Based on what is known about similar viruses, the current understanding of how the virus may spread, issued by the CDC, includes:

  • Person-to-Person – The virus spread between people within 6 feet of one another via respiratory droplets produced through coughs and sneezes that may enter others through the mouth, nose, or inhalation into the lungs.
  • Contact with Infected Surfaces or Objects – While not confirmed, it is possible that the virus can be transmitted when someone touches a surface that has the virus on it and then touches their own mouth, nose or eyes.

What Precautions Should We Take?

To help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends following the same protocols you do to mitigate the spread of seasonal flu and other respiratory viruses including avoiding close contact with people who are sick and staying home when sick.  Clean surfaces and household objects frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or going to the bathroom.  Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a suitable alternative when soap and water are not available.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath; and may show up within 2-14 days after exposure, a CDC estimation based on the incubation period for the MERS-CoV virus.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you or someone in your family has any of the symptoms above – fever, cough, shortness of breath – they may be signs of a virus, cold or flu.  At this time in Maryland, it is unlikely that you have the coronavirus unless you have been in close proximity with someone who is carrying the virus.  In any case, it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect any virus, cold or flu.  Quality First Urgent Care is here to help.  Led by Board Certified Emergency Physician, Dr. Pascal Crosley, the team has the expertise to assess your illness and provide appropriate guidance.