By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Here’s what we know about the coronavirus and what is recommended.
According to the Maricopa County Health Department, there is minimal to no risk to the Grand Canyon University community at large.
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, originating in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, began in December 2019 and has been linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin.
Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed. As of Jan. 21, cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United States.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.
Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to Wuhan, China, or individuals in close contact with a person infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Currently, no commercial testing is available and there is no vaccine. Public health is working with those exposed to get testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At present, the virus has caused thousands of confirmed cases of pneumonia and more than 100 deaths in China, in addition to exported cases in other countries. A total of five cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in the United States, among them an individual in Phoenix. All U.S. cases are among individuals who recently traveled to Wuhan, China.
There currently is one case in Maricopa County. That person is being isolated to prevent spread to others and is not severely ill. Individuals at risk have been contacted and are being monitored by public health. The risk to the public is extremely low.
What can people do to protect themselves and others?
Current symptoms reported for patients with 2019-nCoV have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath.
If you feel sick:
- Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others and do not travel.
- If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China or other affected areas and feel sick, call 602-747-7099 to speak to a Maricopa public health representative.
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including the flu, are to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director, indicated this week that the immediate risk of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to the general public is believed to be low at this time. This echoes information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has stated that “based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.”
Additional information can be found at the following links:
Maricopa County: https://www.maricopa.gov/5460/Novel-Coronavirus
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html