What You Should Know About the New Coronavirus

March 5, 2020
PCR laboratory test for novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China.

Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, including in the United States. It is important that you know about this virus—even if you don’t travel internationally. You should know when and where to seek help.

This new type of coronavirus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the virus seems to have emerged from animals and is now spreading between humans.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While we are still learning more about this new virus, the CDC says that symptoms may appear as early as two days after exposure or as long as 14 days after exposure. The majority of people diagnosed with the coronavirus do recover from this illness without any treatment.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. As a result, it is important that we take steps to stay healthy.

Since the symptoms of COVID-19 overlap with symptoms of the flu, everyone should get their flu shot. It is not too late to do so!

It is very important to:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Regardless of whether you travel overseas, it is good practice to avoid contact with people who are sick. You should also wash your hands frequently using water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Middlesex Health’s three Emergency Department locations are prepared to evaluate and provide medical care to patients with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection. Middlesex facilities follow recommendations from the Department of Public Health and the CDC when providing care to these individuals.

If possible, it is important that you call your primary care physician before heading to an emergency department unless you believe that you need immediate care. Be sure to share any information about travel or potential coronavirus exposure with your care team as soon as possible so that they can best help you. 

For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus/COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website or visit Middlesex Health's coronavirus information page.

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