Read the latest update from the New York Times. A nice summary to keep the science in mind and limits of what we know currently.
The new coronavirus infection in China has shown us just how interconnected we all are and it was particularly apparent when the fifth case of infection in the US was identified in Tempe, with others subsequent to that.
Sure, we all knew this virus could end up touching us at some point, but the issue became more apparent when we were put on the front lines with this news…..no time to wait.
There are many unknowns about the current coronavirus infection, in particular how deadly it is, how widespread it will become, and how much we individually have to worry about this issue, and how we prepare for ourselves and family. Let’s review the issues:
- How deadly is this virus? Based on current information, it appears to be about 10 times more dangerous than the flu, but not nearly as dangerous as previous versions of this virus that we heard of in the past (SARS and MERS). It is CERTAINLY NOT on a par with lethal viruses like EBOLA.
- How widespread? It appears it is becoming widespread and will be an issue around the globe as time goes on. Human to human transmission is clearly happening, and it’s even possible that this can take place with asymptomatic people. How frequently this occurs is unknown but very important in containing the outbreak.
- How much do we individually have to worry? For generally healthy people, the worry factor is very, very low, but for patients with serious lung and heart conditions (patients who are significantly symptomatic…not just labelled has having heart or lung issues that are being monitored), for patients with severe diabetes or on immune suppressing medications, or patients who are generally sickly….this infection has more impact and risk, and they need to be more concerned and attentive to preventive strategies.
- How do we prepare ourselves?
- First, are the basic precautions of hand washing and cleansing.
- Second, is to avoid people with respiratory infections to the best of your ability, but right now, with the spread limited, we do not need to treat such people as pariahs and avoid them completely, but rather consider being more cautious if there is evidence that the virus has landed in our community with some numbers (not just the limited amount seen.)
- Third, patients with underlying illnesses should be careful in the above areas.
- Fourth, exposure in travel situations needs to be considered, although not necessarily avoided. For instance….I would not avoid a plane trip at this time, but as time goes on, this may become something to consider or at least balance against alternative travel methods (personal vehicle). I would avoid trips to Asia if they are elective. I would definitely avoid cruises in Asia at this time. Avoiding air travel out of (not into) San Francisco, New York City, and LAX…..are a very slight consideration, given that these pose the higher risk for the virus.
At present, this is a developing issue that requires all of us to be attentive. We will keep you posted on latest developments here on our website. For now…..we shall do like the great British Quote: KEEP CALM, and CARRY ON.