If you have watched the news, read a newspaper or spent time online in recent weeks, you’ve probably seen mentions of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, is quickly spreading globally with 28 reported cases in the state of Massachusetts at this time. Because not much is known about the virus and growing concern about getting sick, it is important to learn the symptoms and when to visit a doctor for examination and potential testing.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a type of upper respiratory infection, with two very different types. Common coronaviruses include the cold, flu and strep throat, all of which as treatable with fluids, medication and rest. COVID-19 is different, sharing more similarities with more serious upper respiratory diseases including SARS and MERS. However, MERS has been mostly contained to countries in the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, while SARS was eradicated in 2004. COVID-19 is a brand-new strain of virus, spreading quickly without a vaccination or cure yet.
What is the Incubation Period of Coronavirus? What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 has an incubation period of between two and fourteen days, during which time you may not be exhibiting symptoms but can still be contagious. Coronavirus exhibits flu-like symptoms, which require a doctor visit to properly diagnose, including:
- High fever
- Stomach cramps
- Dry cough
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Sore throat
- Chest or nasal congestion
- Stuffed or runny nose
- Shortness of breath
In order to determine whether or not you have the flu or a potential case of COVID-19, you may need to undergo testing. A case of COVID-19 can lead to more serious symptoms from developing including kidney failure and pneumonia.
How does Coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 is transmittable through direct contact with people, surfaces or objects that have been infected by the virus. Surfaces that could be hosting COVID-19 include stair railings, door handles, elevator buttons, work areas and handles on public transportation. Similar to other viruses, the coronavirus can also be spread through coughs and sneezes from infected people. If you are near someone who is noticeably sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should maintain a six-foot distance in order to avoid developing symptoms.
How can I avoid catching COVID-19?
A vaccination is not currently available to immunize people against the current coronavirus. However, worldwide health organizations including WHO and the CDC have several recommendations to prevent exposure to the virus.
- Wash your hands several times throughout the day, moisturizing afterward. You should use soap and hot water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. In order to make sure you are washing your hands for the correct amount of time, you can sing the ABCs or Happy Birthday while scrubbing. Make sure you wash your hands after using public transportation, using the restroom, changing a diaper, before and after handling uncooked food and before sitting down to eat. Using a moisturizing lotion afterward prevents cracking in the skin, which can leave you vulnerable to catching viruses and other diseases. While hand sanitizer can be used when you do not have soap or water available, it should not be used as a replacement.
- Avoid touching your face, especially if you have not washed your hands in some time. Germs can easily be transmitted to your body if you touch your eyes or mouth.
- When you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of your elbow. This will help contain germs, preventing you from infecting nearby surfaces of people.
- Wipe down your most commonly used surfaces at least once a day to kill any germ buildup with disinfectant wipes. This includes your workspace, food preparation areas, and touchpoints including door handles and elevator buttons.
Illness Treatment in Dedham, MA
If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, it is critical that you stay home to avoid infecting others. Visit AFC Urgent Care Dedham for examination and testing. Our walk-in urgent care center is open seven days a week, with most insurance plans accepted. For questions, please call 781-461-0200.