While the coronavirus continues to capture the headlines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the outbreak of the respiratory illness. Locally, hospitals and physician practices across Catholic Health Services (CHS) are prepared to diagnose and treat patients potentially presenting with symptoms of coronavirus while taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease.
Coronavirus symptoms mimic those of the flu and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. CHS medical personnel are asking patients if they have traveled from China and other parts of Asia over the past 14 days in order to identify possible coronavirus cases. The CDC believes that symptoms of coronavirus may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
“At all CHS hospitals, we are actively screening patients in our emergency departments, asking patients about recent travel and looking for signs and symptoms of the virus,” said CHS’s Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO, MBA, FACEP, CHCQM. “Also, we are taking these precautionary steps at our owned physician practices.”
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for coronavirus and there is no vaccine. People infected should receive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include supporting vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to coronavirus should contact their health care provider immediately.
The CDC recommends a number of preventive actions to help curtail the spread of respiratory viruses.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- 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 throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.