HOW TO PREPARE for Coronavirus and Coronavirus testing

With more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and nine deaths in Washington State, you might be anxious about how a potential spread of COVID-19 could affect you. A lot is still unknown about the novel coronavirus but, right now, by following some basic steps, you can help reduce your risk, and do your part to protect others, if your community is affected.

1. PROPER HAND HYGIENE:

“Wet your hands with clean water, then thoroughly apply soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Then rinse, and dry with a clean towel. Set reminders on your phone if you have a tendency to forget—a quick tip is to sing through the ABCs twice. Remember to use hand sanitizer when washing your hands is not possible, but the most effective way to reduce exposure is handwashing.”

2. COUGHING AND SNEEZING ETIQUETTE:

“If tissues are not available, cough or sneeze into your upper arm or sleeve; avoid using your hands. Turn away from other people when coughing or sneezing. If you are sick, avoid unnecessary contact with others.”

3. STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE:

“Studies show people touch their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour, meaning you’re touching your face more often than you’re washing your hands. Self-awareness of this habit can help reduce the spread of this virus.”

We also recommend wiping down anything you touch frequently with a disinfectant—your phone, computer, steering wheel, door handles, car keys, and so on.

4. GLOVES AND MASKS:

According to the CDC, use of masks or gloves is not currently recommended for the general public.”

However, it is recommended if you’re sick, have any flu or cold-like symptoms, or are a healthcare professional.

Face masks have become almost synonymous with the coronavirus outbreak overseas, but they don’t do much to protect you — most surgical masks are too loose to prevent inhalation of the virus.

The C.D.C. and infectious disease specialists do not recommend face masks if you’re healthy.

But if you’re a health care worker or are caring for sick people at home or in a health care facility, you should wear one.

If you’re infected, masks can help prevent the spread of a virus. The most effective are the so-called N95 masks, which block 95 percent of very small particles.

However, it is recommended if you’re sick, have any flu or cold-like symptoms, or are a healthcare professional.

Experts suggest stocking at least a 30-day supply of any needed prescriptions, and you should consider doing the same for household items like food staples, laundry detergent, and diapers, if you have small children.

Remember, alcohol is a good disinfectant for coronaviruses so make sure to keep surfaces in your home clean. Throw out those tissues in a wastebasket after you blow your nose.

Experts say that people currently should feel “very comfortable” traveling to destinations in the United States like California and Florida, “but that could quickly change.”

For travel outside the country, check travel warnings from the C.D.C., which is recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. The C.D.C. is also asking older adults or those with compromised immune systems to consider postponing nonessential travel to Japan.

Coronavirus Testing

After a slow initial rollout, test kits for the new coronavirus are now becoming more widely available in the United States. That means a big surge in testing is coming — one that will likely cause a significant increase in identified cases of the COVID-19 illness.

Here are some things to know about the tests.

If I think I might have the coronavirus, should I get tested?

The most common initial symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath. Call your doctor or your local health department if you believe you might have the virus, and you’ll be advised of the best course of action.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who gets infected gets sick and symptomatic. Also, it’s flu season, so lots of people with flu-like symptoms have just that: the flu.

And to guard against becoming infected, start by practicing good hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Stay home from work or school if you’re sick. It’s possible you could get the virus and not know it because your symptoms are mild — so it’s important not to pass the virus on to others who could be especially vulnerable to it.

How does the test work? Do you get tested at a hospital?

If a patient is suspected of having COVID-19, the person will most likely be tested at a hospital.

A medical professional will swab inside a patient’s nostril and throat. If the patient has a wet cough, the health care worker will also collect sputum (the mixture of saliva and mucus that is coughed up). These samples will then be examined in a lab for genetic material that indicates whether the coronavirus is present.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that it is now shipping test kits to labs across the country and that they should be in state and local labs by the end of the week. The Food and Drug Administration has also just given permission to advanced labs — mostly at academic hospitals — to use their own tests if they have developed them.

As Testing Quickly Ramps Up, Expect More U.S. Coronavirus Cases

So who decides who’ll be tested?

Right now, it’s up to state and local health departments to decide whom to test. The CDC provides clinical criteria to health care professionals for determining whether someone should be classified as a person under investigation for COVID-19.

Unless someone is very sick and/or has reason to believe they’ve been exposed to the virus, the doctor is likely to decide the person does not need to be tested for coronavirus.

How many tests are available?

The CDC says it has enough kits to test at least 75,000 people, and more are on order. Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, told reporters on Monday that close to a million test kits would be available by week’s end.

Each lab that orders a diagnostic panel from the CDC to test for COVID-19 will receive one diagnostic panel initially, and each panel can test 700 to 800 patient specimens.

Why hasn’t broader testing been available until now?

The first test kits sent by the CDC to state and local labs didn’t work as planned. It was a three-step process, and the third step was causing problems. The FDA subsequently authorized the use of just the first and second steps to provide a definitive diagnostic.

That set the U.S. back several weeks, and public health officials lost a crucial window to contain the virus and prevent it from getting a foothold in the United States.

Secondly, the CDC was using very strict criteria to determine who could be tested. That’s what happened with the community spread case last month at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif.

The CDC has now revised the criteria for testing to include people who are so sick that they need to be hospitalized but don’t know how they might have been exposed.

Follow:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *