A Few Things to Know About the Coronvirus

What is the coronavirus? Can you provide a simple explanation?

Coronaviruses are typically known to cause diseases in mammals and birds. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID 19) causes respiratory illness and influenza-like symptoms like cough, sore throat and fever. Some cases are mild and are attributed to a bad cold while others can lead to pneumonia.

According to the CDC, the coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes of sugary proteins projecting from the envelope of the surrounding particle.

With the recent W.H.O. announcement of concern, what type of precautions should people take when traveling, short of avoiding it altogether?

The CDC is strongly advising against any nonessential travel to China and areas/countries actively under quarantine, and to avoid any heavily impacted areas all together.

While the risk is never zero, concern over coronavirus for U.S. travelers traveling domestically is low. All travelers should, however, take any normal anti-flu precautions, like good hand hygiene, which is absolutely crucial to combating viral transmissions.

What is the range of severity of symptoms that coronavirus can cause? Which degree of severity is most likely to occur in an infected person?

Symptoms associated with this strain of coronavirus begin and often stay as flu-like, which can include shortness of breath, fever and cough. These are the most likely symptoms and occur within 2 to 14 days after exposure. In serious cases, they escalate to pneumonia in one or both lungs.

In your opinion, what is the likelihood of an epidemic in the U.S.?

The risk of acquiring this infection at the scale seen in China and other affected regions is incredibly low, let alone a full-blown outbreak happening in the U.S. That being said, the current situation is fluid, so it’s always wise to take extra precautions, as you would during flu season.

Is there a demographic who would be most at risk of contracting the virus?

It's the same as with the flu. Higher risk demographics include those with compromised immune systems and pre-existing conditions, children under 5, and adults over 65.

Do you think New Yorkers should be taking any additional precautions against coronavirus aside from regular flu prevention methods? Are there any specific symptoms they should look out for?

All New Yorkers should get the flu shot as it is still dangerous and can be deadly.  Approximately 5000 people in the U.S. died from the Flu last year!  People can be anywhere between asymptomatic and have severe cold-like symptoms with shortness of breath.

New Yorkers over the age of 65 should get the Pneumovax shot as it can protect from superinfection with bacterial pneumonia in both the flu and/or the coronavirus.

Symptoms to look out for include: fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties are some of the more urgent symptoms to look out for. However, these are also symptoms of upper respiratory infections, so it's important to speak to your doctor about what to be concerned about.

If you’ve recently traveled to/from China, Iran, Italy or any other high-risk countries or have come in direct contact with a person who has recently traveled to these areas and is experiencing symptoms, visit your healthcare provider to get checked out.

Otherwise, other than being vigilant about hand-washing and hygiene and avoiding infected persons, there’s not much else you can do or need to do at this point. People in the U.S. and major cities like New York especially are much more likely to get the flu than the coronavirus, so stay on top of those precautions and you’ll be OK.

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