14 Feb Answers to 5 Common Questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Every few years a new virus emerges (or an old one returns) and concerned people turn to the internet looking to soak up information. This is expected, as people naturally want to feel safe and learn how to protect themselves. Included in the information flood, though, are problematic conspiracy theories, rumors, and miracle remedies that make me cringe.
These theories are troubling to me as someone who supports the response to public health emergencies and understands the impact of amplifying the right information on creating positive health outcomes. Misinformation can not only mislead people into not trusting public health authorities but also prevent them from seeking legitimate medical attention they may need. Because of this, folks may not take the necessary precautions to prevent disease spread and the outbreak may be worsened.
To continue fighting the good fight in 2020, we have to promote accurate information on the new coronavirus disease, newly named COVID-19 (previously 2019-nCoV). This is one of the many things we care about at Healthcare Ready: amplifying the facts.
As this is my first experience working here during a major disease outbreak and the first time social media has been a major player in an outbreak, I am excited to take the time to set some facts straight about coronavirus and hopefully help out a few worried folks along the way.
After all, aren’t you wondering what is really going on with this new coronavirus?
Q: Should I be worried about catching the disease?
A: No, the CDC maintains that COVID-19 is not a high risk to the average American who hasn’t been in contact with someone confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
Q: Still, are there any medicines that I can get to protect myself from the coronavirus?
A: There still isn’t a vaccine. This might sound like a bummer, but a lot of awesome biotech organizations are working hard to create a vaccine and antibodies as we speak. So please don’t trust anyone trying to sell one online right now.
The same goes for any sketchy home remedies, dangerous miracle products, and, obviously, drinking bleach. These methods are not only scams, but they are dangerous to your body and don’t protect you against coronavirus.
If you want something to do, washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and practicing social distancing when sick are your best lines of defense against infectious diseases in general.
Still not satisfied with these ways to protect yourself against COVID-19? That brings me to what is probably your next question…
Q: Will a flu shot protect me from the coronavirus?
A: No. (Sorry!) But it’s still a great idea to get one right now, for these reasons:
- Flu is a much bigger threat to your health than COVID-19 is right now.
- A flu shot not only reduces your chances of catching flu, but it also lowers your chances of experiencing serious complications if you get the flu.
- Fewer flu cases means less strain on the very healthcare system that is working hard to protect us against the spread of coronavirus.
- If you’re anxiously awaiting a COVID-19 vaccine, you should be excited that there’s already one for the dangerous disease that is circulating around the US – the flu!
Q: What caused this outbreak?
A: While this outbreak originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly where it came from – whether it be from a bat or another type of animal.
Animals can carry viruses that evolve and spread to humans who interact with them. This happened with two other known coronaviruses, SARS-CoV, which jumped from civet cats to humans, and MERS-CoV, which jumped from camels to humans. In the case of COVID-19, early cases were linked to a live animal market, where the jump to humans may have occurred.
Q: Is there a reason it started in China? Does that mean people from China are more likely to carry the disease?
A: Let’s be clear. The fact that this new coronavirus originated in China has nothing to do with innate qualities about the country or its citizens. More importantly, this outbreak gives no one the right to treat people of Chinese descent – or any human being, for that matter – with anything less than the decency we all deserve. Scary times sometimes bring out ugly characteristics, but we must rise above this. Remember that many people across China and the world are suffering because of this disease. We owe it to them to be good to those around us.
I hope this information helps you feel more at ease as you follow the news surrounding the outbreak.
Until the next disease outbreak, remember that your first defense is always getting the right information from trusted sources, using common sense, and trusting health advice from certified healthcare professionals only.
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