Understanding the Wuhan coronavirus

Get the facts about the coronavirus and how to protect yourself.

What is the coronavirus?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

How does the virus spread?

This virus most likely came from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on an ongoing basis. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.

How can I protect myself against the virus?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. While scientists work to develop a vaccine, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) always recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses, including the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • 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, then throw the tissue in the trash. Follow by washing your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

How are patients screened for the coronavirus in Sharp HealthCare hospitals, urgent cares and clinics?

Sharp HealthCare facilities have a standard protocol in place for any infectious disease, including coronavirus. Sharp emergency departments, urgent care centers and medical clinics ask all arriving patients about any recent travel out of the country and carry out respiratory precautions for patients with symptoms. Those precautions involve masking of the patient and masking of caregivers who interact with the patient, and isolating the patient to prevent any potential spread of infection. Stands with masks are conveniently located in all Sharp patient areas.

How is Sharp HealthCare protecting patients and visitors in their waiting areas? It’s possible that a positive case can be among those waiting.

Patients with influenza-like illness are requested to wear a mask before entering the waiting room at all Sharp hospitals, urgent cares and clinics. Signage and mask stands have been placed outside each facility entryway.

Does a standard mask offer sufficient protection from the virus?

Most viruses that spread by respiratory secretions can be controlled with a standard mask. At this time, the CDC recommends offering all patients who are showing respiratory symptoms, like a cough, a standard mask for source control.

What should you do if you come into contact with a person who has traveled to China and is being confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, the coronavirus?

If you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection, you should:

  • Monitor your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person and continue monitoring for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person. Watch for these signs and symptoms:
    • Fever: take your temperature twice a day.
    • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Other early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and runny nose.
  • If you develop fever or any of these symptoms, call your health care provider right away.
  • Before going to your medical appointment, be sure to tell your health care provider about your close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection. This will help the health care provider’s office take steps to keep other people from becoming infected. Ask your health care provider to call the local or state health department.
  • If you do not have any symptoms, you can continue with your daily activities, such as going to work, school or other public areas.

What steps should be taken by individuals who are being evaluated for the virus and do not need to be hospitalized?

These individuals should:

  • Stay home except to get medical care, if necessary.
  • Separate themselves from other people in the home.
  • Call ahead before visiting their doctor.
  • Wear a standard mask.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes and frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, utensils, cups, etc.
  • Monitor symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if the illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before going to a medical appointment in this case, individuals should call their health care provider and tell them that they are being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection. This will help the health care provider’s office take steps to keep other people from becoming infected.

Understanding the Wuhan coronavirus

Understanding the Wuhan coronavirus

The fast-moving virus has been found in California. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s new with the flu?

What’s new with the flu?

The 2020–21 flu season is here. Health officials recommend vaccinating yourself and your family before the end of October. Here’s what else you need to know.