Sutter Infectious Disease Expert: What You Need to Know about Coronavirus
Jeffrey Silvers, M.D., is the medical director of Infectious Disease for Sutter Health
What do people need to know about the Wuhan, China coronavirus?
Coronaviruses typically cause mild symptoms like those associated with the common cold. However, a new (or novel) strain of coronavirus, first reported in Wuhan, China, has caused some people to develop much more serious illness, including pneumonia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the outbreak caused by the new coronavirus. At present, this new strain of coronavirus infection is only being found in people who have recently visited Wuhan, China or who have had close contact with someone who developed the disease from exposure to it there.
are the symptoms?
The new coronavirus infection symptoms are similar to the flu – fever, aching, and cough, with shortness of breath in more severe cases. At this time, a history of recent travel to Wuhan or close contact with someone who became sick after traveling there is also an important risk factor.
can people protect themselves?
• Wash your hands! Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
• Cover your cough. If you cough, cover it and avoid allowing others to cough on you.
• If you haven’t already had a flu shot, get one now—there is still time. Getting the influenza vaccine will minimize your risk of getting the flu. Flu symptoms may appear similar to a coronavirus infection and in turn cause unnecessary concern.
should I do if I think I might have coronavirus?
• Don’t panic. The flu or another respiratory virus is still the most likely cause.
• Contact your local public health department or your doctor for advice.
• If you feel sick enough to go to an emergency department, call ahead to alert the staff that you are coming and tell them that you are concerned you might have the new coronavirus. If you decide to go to the emergency department, request a mask be brought out to you before you enter the hospital, to reduce the risk of exposing others.
is Sutter protecting patients and caregivers?
At Sutter, our number one priority is the safety of our patients, our staff and our clinicians. We are working closely with local public health departments to coordinate efforts to properly identify and evaluate patients who may have contracted the new coronavirus. We are keeping our staff and affiliated physicians throughout our integrated network informed about the new coronavirus and associated health department and CDC guidance.
Where can I learn more?