The first thing you should know about the Coronavirus is that data is changing rapidly. In order to keep up, you need to know where to get the most up-to-date, accurate and relevant information.
I recommend resisting the temptation to simply take what you hear on the news or in the popular media as being true, and instead use resources like the World Health Organization's webpage on the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak where you will find real time statistics and facts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also provides specific information on things like:
- How to protect yourself
- Travel advice
- Situation reports
- Global research
- Media resources
- And more...
Here are two of the WHO's videos that give a great visual description of the coronavirus, how it started, why it is spreading so rapidly and ways you can prevent being exposed.
VIDEO 1: What is the coronavirus?
VIDEO 2: How to protect yourself against COVID-19
Are You Concerned about your cold and flu symptoms?
Coronaviruses usually cause an upper respiratory tract illness like the common cold. Patients with this new COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath according to the CDC. Although there is no specific treatment for coronavirus and most infected people will recover on their own, if you suspect that you are infected you should call your doctor's advice line to get instructions on how/if to get tested.
It’s still cold and flu season, and the same practices that stop the spread of these common illnesses are recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These recommendations include the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol hand sanitizers can also be effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands or at all.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Keep sick children home from school.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you use a tissue, discard the tissue and wash your hands afterward.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces including door handles, counter tops, faucets, remotes, etc.
If you or a family member has traveled recently to an area of risk, or if you think you may have been exposed to the virus and have symptoms of respiratory illness, you should call your doctor to get further instructions. It’s important to call us ahead of time rather than going directly to an ER or making an appointment online. Calling ahead helps them direct you to the most appropriate care, and take precautions to protect other members, patients, and employees.
The Best Defense Is A Healthy Immune System
So far it appears that the people most at risk of dying from the Coronavirus (or any opportunistic infection for that matter) are those who are elderly or who have a weakened immune system. So far there have not been any reported deaths of children age 0-9 years or pregnant women.
Here are a few easy ways you can support and strengthen your immune system starting today:
- Get enough sleep (usually between 7-9 hours)
- Exercise daily, walking 20-30 minutes in fresh air if possible
- Stay hydrated with filtered water
- Supplement with Vitamin C - especially important if sepsis develops
- Eat fruits and vegetables, foods high in antioxidants, enzymes and fiber
For more information and resources please see an excellent article written by Elisa Song, MD, Coronavirus (COVID-19): What a Pediatrician Wants You to Know.
Additional local (Pacific Northwest) resources where you can find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 are available here:
- Clark County Health Department
- Multnomah County Health Department
- Clackamas County Health Department
- Washington County Health Department
- OHA Emerging Respiratory Disease page
- CDC COVID-19 page
- CDC travel notice
- WHO page
Lastly, if you are feeling sick, chances are you have the regular flu or a common cold. Staying home to take care of yourself is one of the best ways to get better faster and avoid spreading these illnesses. Of course if you are worried that you have COVID-19 take the above advice and call your doctor's office for instructions. Feel free to call our office if you aren't sure what to do. We are here to help!