Saturday, January 25, 2020

New Corona Virus Affecting Chinese New Year Celebrations

Today is Chinese New Year! It is the year of the Rat. In many parts of Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations (also known as Spring Festival) is observed for about two weeks. For more interesting facts about this holiday, you can read it here.

Some of you may know that large-scale festivities have been cancelled in China due to trying to contain the outbreak of a new coronavirus. In addition, the country is restricting travel during this busiest travel time of year. So this is a pretty big deal.  So far, there have been 41 deaths and about 1,300 confirmed cases in China. There are only 2 confirmed cases in the US.

I feel for the overwhelmed healthcare workers trying to contain and treat. Many are unable to go home to their families to celebrate this holiday. Here is a photo from an Insider article showing medical staff in a Wuhan hospital holding up Chinese New Year signs.
doctors signs wuhan hospitals

So what is it?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses like the common cold. Usually the symptoms are mild or moderate but can spread to cause pneumonia and bronchitis. MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV were two types of coronaviruses that caused more severe symptoms. Now we have this 2019-nCoV that is also causing more severe symptoms.

How do you get it?
  • from the air (infected person coughs or sneezes)
  • from personal contact (touching or shaking hands with infected person)
  • from objects or surfaces (then touching your eyes, nose, mouth before washing your hands
What are the symptoms?
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • no runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, diarrhea (specifically in this 2019-nCoV)
  • symptoms may not appear until up to 14 days after exposure
How do you treat it?
  • rest (sleep is your best weapon)
  • fluids
  • humidified air
  • medicines to control symptoms (tylenol, motrin, cough medicine, inhalers if needed etc.)
  • there is no specific anti-viral treatment
  • call your doctor if not improving or if worried
How to prevent it?
  • wash hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick
  • cover cough or sneeze with tissue then throw out tissue
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surface
Many of these treatments and preventions apply to all viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses. However, if you have recently travelled to China within two weeks of symptoms,  you must let your doctor know.