ATLANTA, GA — The Georgia Department of Health shared tips Wednesday for Georgians to lessen the chance that they contract the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. A top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official warned Tuesday that it is only a matter of time before the respiratory disease spreads to communities across the United States.
“We urge Georgians to prepare for hurricanes or flooding or take measures to prevent flu, so preparing for an outbreak of COVID-19 is no different,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, in a news release. “DPH is working to make sure our health systems, first responders and county health departments have the resources they need to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.”
To date there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Georgia. Nearly 200 Georgians who recently traveled to China are self-monitoring for symptoms of the deadly new coronavirus, state health officials said Feb. 11. The residents are under self-quarantine, which allows them to stay at home for two weeks, the period experts say is needed to develop the disease.
The best way to prevent the spread of a disease is to rapidly identify it and isolate sick people to keep others from becoming ill, said the Georgia Department of Public Health. The goal is to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and reduce its spread and protect the public, officials said. The overall risk of the public being exposed to COVID-19 remains low, the state said.
The state’s pandemic flu plan will be adapted for a new coronavirus outbreak in the state.
DPH leaders are holding weekly calls with the public health and hospital/health care community to update information and answer questions, the agency said.Subscribe
DPH epidemiologists are on-call 24/7 to help health care providers evaluate patients who show symptoms of COVID-19 manage cases safely, support laboratory testing and implement recommendations from the CDC.
Should it become necessary, the state health department may recommend measures such as temporary closure of child care facilities and schools/colleges and universities; school and workplace social distancing; and postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings.
Georgia businesses should consider teleworking and cross-training employees on essential job functions to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Tips To Keep Coronavirus From Spreading:
- Stay home except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available. Avoid contact with your pet. Wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
- Wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95 percent alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with others in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe.
If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, told reporters in a conference call the question is no longer if the coronavirus, now officially called COVID-19, will spread across the United States but when that will happen.
Communities, schools and businesses in Georgia and elsewhere should begin preparing now for “the expectation that this could be bad,” Messonnier said.
“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe. But these are things that people need to start thinking about now,” she said. “You should think about what you would do for child care if schools or day cares closed.”
Passenger screening at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is ongoing. This is to identify people coming from China who may have been exposed to and are at risk of developing COVID-19, and to provide appropriate assessment and monitoring to protect the public.
Related: Easy Ways To Avoid Getting Sick This Season
Globally, at least 80,000 people have been infected and 2,700 people have died from the new coronavirus, creating a global pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. It is spreading so quickly overseas that infectious disease experts and scientists warn there may be no way to contain it.
The CDC said Monday that 53 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States. Three dozen of the patients are among passengers repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined for weeks off the coast of Japan; three patients were infected in Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, and the others contracted the virus while traveling abroad.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news conference Monday the “sudden increase in new cases” outside of China is “deeply concerning.”
Flu Versus The New Coronavirus
The symptoms of the new coronavirus are similar to seasonal influenza, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Both are infectious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses.
Both cause fever, cough, body aches and fatigue, and can result in pneumonia. Both illnesses can sometimes cause vomiting and diarrhea. Both can be spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing or talking.
Common good-health practices such as frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and staying home from work or school during the course of the illness can help control the spread of both illnesses.
Neither responds to antibiotic treatment, but both may be treated by addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever. Both illnesses can be severe enough to require hospitalization.
But there are some distinct differences between the two:
Flu is caused by several different types of viruses, while COVID-19 is caused by the new coronavirus, which is also called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
Johns Hopkins says there is some evidence COVID-19 could be airborne, “meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.”
There is no vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus, as there is against influenza. Scientists around the world are racing to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus, although none currently exists.
A company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has shipped vials of its novel coronavirus vaccine to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease for further research. Like (1) Thank Reply (2)