As city, county and state agencies make preparations for a possible spread of coronavirus throughout Texas, there are steps the public can take to help keep the virus at bay.
KERA Vital Signs host Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Nikhil Bhayani, an infectious disease specialist with Texas Health Resources.
IF YOU DEVELOP A COUGH AND/OR FEVER
If symptoms start worsening, difficulty breathing, dizziness, then definitely that's when you want to go seek health care. Otherwise, keep away from the masses because you don't want to expose other people to your supposed illness. Stay home, get some rest, take ibuprofen or Tylenol as needed for fevers, drink plenty of fluids — and of course nutrition is important.
WHO'S MOST AT RISK FROM COVID-19
Looking at the majority of deaths that have occurred, mostly the elderly population, and also those people who have other chronic illnesses like:
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic lung disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
HOW VIRUSES CAN SPREAD
Viruses can be transmitted, of course, through touching something. Right now, if I sneeze and you're in proximity of six feet of me for at least more than two minutes, you definitely are exposed
Initially cases [of COVID-19] were thought to be linked to personal contact with someone who had traveled to China or some country that had been a hotspot. Now we're learning that it can spread through the community. You don't even need to have traveled.
A person could travel or they were exposed to somebody in their household who had recently traveled. Some people can have just a mild cough, some fever, and they get over it but still can be contagious. There are some sporadic cases reported outside the United States of folks who have no symptoms, who are spreading the virus.
BEYOND PERSON TO PERSON CONTACT
Just recently, in one of the hospital infection journals I was reading, studies showed that the virus can stay on inanimate objects for up to nine days, especially on glass and plastic.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Wash your hands under warm water with an anti-germicidal soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol based hand sanitizers. They should include at least 60 to 70% ethyl alcohol.
- Face masks: We recommend them mainly for health care providers taking care of patients suspected for the novel coronavirus. People traveling in large public places should put on a mask if they're coughing to protect others from you. Otherwise, that mask is really not serving any purpose.
Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.