“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.” －William S. Burroughs
The panic felt in the Philippines and the rest of Asia two months ago as the coronavirus disease, or Covid-19, began spreading, is growing in the United States. Many Americans believed it would never reach the mainland but they were wrong. Today, media outlets across the US are filled with Covid-19 headlines after 10 cases were confirmed in upstate New York, along with one in New York City and 98 patients under investigation.
The New York State Department of Health announced: “Recently, a new coronavirus-2019 novel coronavirus that was first detected in China is now spreading worldwide. This virus causes a disease called Covid-19 and can lead to fever, cough, and shortness of breath. There are thousands of confirmed cases in a growing number of countries internationally and the virus is now spreading in the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more about this virus. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern, or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas, were asked to call ahead to their health care provider before seeking treatment in person. Those who recently traveled internationally to the areas of concern and feel sick with fever, cough or trouble breathing, were told to do the following:
- Seek medical care right away; call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms
- Avoid contact with others
- Stay home, except for seeking medical care
- Avoid further travel until the illness resolves
- Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and, if unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
There have been constant warnings about the virus that report it may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms such as cough, fever, trouble breathing, and pneumonia. Symptoms supposedly appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
How does the coronavirus spread? Most of the earlier reported cases came in contact with a market selling seafood and live animals, suggesting an animal caused the outbreak. However, most cases are now likely to be spread person-to-person.
Since the virus is new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how it spreads. While there is currently no vaccine, in addition to the above advisory, I have been told these steps can help stop the spread, along with other respiratory viruses.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces frequently
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Alex P. Vidal, who is based in New York City, used to be the editor for two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ