Health officials are closely monitoring the coronavirus that has killed 3,200 people around the world, but they still are not sure what is causing it. Because of this, there is not a vaccine available yet, either. For now, the only thing that we can do, and what health departments are telling people to do, is to practice good personal hygiene. It is also a good idea to educate yourself on the facts, to get a flu shot, and to stay calm about the coronavirus. The biggest enemy of the virus right now, is "fear, rumors and stigma," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom.
The good news is that the virus has not been found to be spreading freely in communities. Most cases are still being traced to existing cases, meaning that there is still a chance of being able to contain the virus.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there have been about 60 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States. However, health professionals are still unsure of the dynamics and demographic of the people who have contracted the infection.
There are things that people can do to help slow the spread of pandemic illnesses in their communities, called nonpharmaceutical interventions, or NPIs, by the CDC. These same discussions took place in 2009, when the H1N1, otherwise known as the swine flu, became present in cases around the country.
Part of these NPIs include being aware of the situation, looking closely at their work, school, child care, and lifestyle. Although our risk in the United States is still low, diseases cannot be controlled very easily.
Some of the same things that the CDC recommends for preventing the spread of the common cold and the flu, can be used to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These prevention tips include:
- Practicing good personal hygiene: wash your hands properly by scrubbing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough instead of using your hand.
- Be aware of how much you are touching your eyes, mouth and nose, and avoid it when possible.
- Stay home from work or school when you are sick, and try to avoid sick people.
- Keep your environment as clean as possible by wiping down surfaces that are touched frequently, especially your cell phone.
- Make sure that you have a steady supply of your prescription and nonprescription drugs ready.
Although a pandemic has not been officially declared in the United States, if that were to happen, the CDC would recommend for individuals to isolate themselves at home if someone in the household contracts the virus, or ask infected people to wear masks. However, this is not necessary yet.