As the coronavirus continues to spread, news about how best to respond to the outbreak has been constantly developing and changing. Here’s the basic information the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shared regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 and the outlook for this outbreak:
What is it?This new strain of coronavirus, which is the name for a family of viruses, was first detected in China and has now spread to more than 100 locations globally. The disease it causes has been abbreviated COVID-19.
SpreadThe virus spreads between people who are in close contact (about 6 feet) and through sneezing or coughs. It can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.
SymptomsWhile researchers are still working to understand more about the virus, reported illnesses have ranged from people reporting no symptoms to severe illness, including death. Within 2-14 days of exposure, someone infected might experience fever, cough and shortness of breath. Older people and people with serious chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of serious illness.
PreventionAs there is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, the best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Keeping at least 6 feet of distance from others is one way to protect against exposure, and the CDC recommends washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — especially after being in public. Any coughs or sneezes should be covered with a tissue or in the crook of your elbow, immediately followed by a hand washing. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected often.
If you’re sickAnyone who thinks they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and has developed the symptoms should call their doctor or healthcare provider for medical advice. Local hospitals are screening patients for risk of exposure, and if a patient meets certain criteria they’ll have their sinuses swabbed and send to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for testing. If the test comes back positive, the patient is presumed positive for COVID-19, but the test still has to be confirmed by the CDC.
People who are sick should stay at home, keep in touch with their doctor and avoid exposure to others. Limiting contact with others in the household can reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading, as can wearing a face mask. If your symptoms get worse, seek medical care right away, but call your doctor first so they can prepare to safely treat a patient with a respiratory condition.
To learn moreFor information on COVID-19, the overall state of the outbreak and the latest guidance from experts, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.