Be Alert, not anxious.
If you have been following US media in recent weeks, you’re probably well antiquated with the Novel Coronavirus, but it’s not likely as big as a threat as it’s made out to be. Currently, it is considered a world health emergency, but not a pandemic. Currently, in the US, we have 11 confirmed cases and zero deaths. The virus can cause mechanical ventilation among other issues, so it should be considered a threat that we should look out for. What this does not mean is that you should avoid major cities, and stay home from work and school. Especially if you are not immunocompromised, and under 60 years old, it is not a large threat. The main threat for this is immunocompromised people, the elderly, and very young children who are still developing their immune system. I would like to repeat, in the United States, this is not a crisis and not a reason to panic. When seeking information, seek out sources like the CDC and the WHO. The last time the government took the steps to screen people flying in and out of the US was during the smallpox epidemic, and if you remember, smallpox was eradicated with vaccination.
If you are worried about it being designated a national, and world health emergency, it’s important to know that these designations are made so hospitals and medical institutions throughout the country, and the world will share information and work as a team to try to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. Since currently, the only treatment is supportive care, this collaboration is beneficial to discover a cure, which should be a number one priority. Countries will poor medical systems that can’t provide supportive care will be the most affected. The NIH is making good progress to this with the help of private groups and other organizations. To get the virus, you would need to have been in the Wuhan are in the last two weeks, you would have to be in contact with someone who was there in the last two weeks. If you are worried that you or someone you know may be infected, the first thing you should do if contact your healthcare provider. For best safety, a hospital or medical treatment center needs a heads up to prepare and properly sanitize transportation, or any areas you would be in to prevent it from spreading to those who are susceptible. After this, the hospital will take samples and send it to the CDC headquarters to perform a PCR test which will take around 24 hours. During this, you would have to stay in a negative pressure room to prevent it from spreading.
The best thing you can do right now keeps good sanitation. All of the same advice that comes to avoiding the flu applies to this also. Wash your hands frequently and properly, and if that is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you have to cough or sneeze, do it in a tissue, and throw that tissue out. If you see someone coughing and sneezing, stay at least six feet away to avoid particles. Also, if you’re sick, stay home, you never know who you may be in contact with that might be immunocompromised. It doesn’t matter what you have, by staying home, you’re decreasing the spread of whatever you have, and making your community safer.
Wearing surgical masks in public actually cause harm, especially if you don’t know how to use one. If you haven’t received sanitation training, you will likely do more harm than good. Whatever particles that were on that mask can get on your hand when you take it off, then those particles on your hand can spread elsewhere, defeating the purpose of the mask. The CDC does not make this a general recommendation, so you shouldn’t worry about doing it, and you should stick to that advice. The masks that you would be buying on Amazon are not likely to be M95 masks, which is the standard for masks made for medical use. People are buying so many of these masks, hospitals are running out of supplies for them. They are needed for people in hospitals who are sick to prevent their doctors from getting sick while they are being treated. They are not meant for people in public to stay safe. These shortages put medical professionals at risk, which is the thing that we need to be trying to prevent the most right now. Currently, the biggest threat to your health is the influenza virus in the US, and I highly urge you to get your flu shot, it’s the best thing that you can do for yourself and others.
Now, let’s get into the section about xenophobia. In cities and on public transport, some are avoiding those of Asian descent in fear of contracting the Novel Coronavirus because it’s from China. This is very disappointing, and people need to be better than that. There are only 11 cases in the US, and none in cities like New York/DC where this is happening the most, and forgetting that, there’s never an excuse to be xenophobic.