By Dr. Zaher Sahloul, MedGlobal President
As novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or COVID19) continues to spread and news headlines predict a rise in cases in the western hemisphere and dozens of countries now reporting cases. Eleven deaths occurred in the United States as of March 5th.
As a Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist who works with the sickest of patients who have respiratory failure related to infections like COVID19, I want to advise everyone to take extra caution and follow recommendations of public health officials for infectious disease prevention.
I am sharing a few simple steps to prevent the spread COVID19, which are from public health principles and some religious practices:
- If you are exposed to someone who suffers from a contagious illness, like the flu, common cold, or the new COVID19, you have the responsibility of preventing harm to others by staying home and prevent spreading the disease.
- Consult with your doctor if you have fever, cough, shortness of breath, and/or fatigue.
- Limit unnecessary international travel and avoid travel to China, South Korea, Japan, and Italy.
- Wash your hands frequently and wash them effectively. Wash for at least 20 seconds, in between the fingers, under nails and including the wrist with soap and water. Use antiseptic if you cannot wash your hands, especially after you touch others or shake hands.
- Wash your nose and mouth frequently. For Muslims, it is similar to what you do in preparation for prayer during Ablution (Wudu).
- Avoid shaking hands or hugging people unnecessarily.
- Avoid attending gatherings, prayer services in congregations or other meetings if you are sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze with a napkin or your arm at the elbow.
- Unless you are sick or are a healthcare provider, there is no need to use or buy N95 masks – it is not recommended to the general public and it won’t provide you with adequate protection. The improper use is creating a shortage in the market and effectively hurting healthcare workers who need it.
- Get the influenza vaccine if you haven’t already – this will reduce the amount of viral respiratory cases in the community.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, especially if they are frequently touched.
- We have the best healthcare system in the world but we need to do our part in preventing the spread of disease.
Please monitor the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), for the most accurate information and feel free to contact infection prevention if you have any questions.