[UPDATE: Scientists are encouraging people to stay away from large crowds to avoid the spread of coronavirus. See more on social distancing here.]
Recent concerns regarding the new coronavirus (dubbed the 2019-nCoV strain originating in China) have people worried about traveling during Spring Break. While there haven’t been any deaths from coronavirus in the US, but there are two confirmed cases of the aggressive illness: one in Washington and one in Illinois.
Some people who heard about the Illinois case were surprised doctors found the 2019-nCoV strain in the Midwest. But Chicago O’Hare is one of the countries busiest international airports. The patient was recently in Wuhan, China, where researchers traced the strain back to animals for sale in a marketplace. This illness being in the Midwest is not a sign that it’s rapidly spreading across the country.
Want to know what’s up with the coronavirus from China? Check out these five facts:
- A coronavirus has a lot in common with the common cold. There’s no vaccine. There’s no cure. Treatment focuses on making the patient comfortable and better able to fend off the virus on their own.
- This virus skipped from a shipment of snakes to humans and then quickly spread outside the group of people who’d visited the market. So far, cases have been confirmed in 10 countries, though the majority of the 1,400 cases worldwide are in Wuhan, China.
- Wuhan is scrambling to create two hospitals to treat patients, a sign that lack of access to medical care might have contributed to the 41-person death toll so far.
- The disease spreads like a cold. People prevent it just like a cold too. Wash your hands. Keep your fingers away from your eyes and out of your nose.
- Both of the Americans who came down with the illness came back to the states from visits to China, and they were around massive numbers of people. After the patient in Washington was diagnosed, public health tested 43 of his friends, family and coworkers. None of them had contracted the illness. Similar results were seen in the Chicago patient with coronavirus.
Spring Break is the first chance some of us get after a long winter to let our hair down and have fun. That’s tougher with the threat of a pandemic hanging around. Fortunately, the disease is not spreading as quickly or having as severe as consequences as some outlets are fearmongering.
Yes, certain precautions making avoiding illness on vacation easier. Use soap and warm water when washing your hands. Sneeze into your elbow (and hold your breath for 5 – 7 seconds if someone sneezes near you).
Why You Shouldn’t Take a Vacation When You’re Sick
It’s doubtful many people in the US will wind up with 2019-nCoV. If you have a severe nose, throat or coughing problem, call your doctor immediately. If it’s not coronavirus, it could be another serious illness, and not everyone in your doctor’s waiting room wants to risk exposure while you wait for an appointment. People visiting museums, shows, landmarks, hotels and restaurants won’t want to deal with your germs either. You can sometimes use cold medicine and hand sanitizer to help prevent spreading germs, but if you can, be kind and keep yourself home. Not only will help others in avoiding illness on vacation, but the rest will help your body fight off the infection.
Update: As of 1/20/2020, 170 people have died, over 7,400 have been infected and 133 people have recovered. There are now five confirmed cases in the US, but so far it is being managed carefully and with success. Get updates here.