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The World Health Organization (WHO) defines coronaviruses as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. On February 11, The World Health Organization announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus. Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names, for example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. COVID-19 or coronavirus is the disease responsible for the virus called SARS-CoV-2 or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 virus is spread much like influenza, person-to-person through close contact (within about 6 ft.), via respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, and to a lesser extent through contact with infected surfaces.
Similar to the flu, symptoms may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms can be mild to severe illness, and result in pneumonia.
For your safety and the safety of the community, if you have traveled to COVID-19 infected areas, or had contact with someone who has, and feel sick with a fever and cough within 14 days, call your medical office and/or hospital ahead of time and explain your recent travel history and symptoms before visiting a doctor’s office, Emergency Department, or Urgent Care Center. Medical staff can help to make decisions about whether, when and where, you should be evaluated. This will avoid spreading the virus further to individuals in waiting rooms and other areas at these locations. As always, if you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 911 and seek emergency care.
The CDC does not recommend wearing a mask when out in the general public, as that has not been shown to prevent virus spread and can take masks away from people that need them.
Not necessarily. Your healthcare provider will determine the appropriate level of testing. Testing to detect this virus is only performed at the CDC and recently the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also received approval to perform the tests.
We know that most patients who test positive will not require hospitalization. We also know that, so far, the COVID-19 virus has had minimal impact on the health of children. However, patients who do need inpatient care will receive care in isolation once admitted.
There is no vaccine, as of yet, to protect against COVID-19. Some antiviral medications are in the process of testing to see if they can address some of the symptoms.