With two confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (officially named COVID-19) now reported among the Jewish community in New York, there is confusion and concern about how to protect oneself from contracting the viral illness or, if diagnosed, how to avoid passing it to others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise calling ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
According to the CDC, older people and people with certain underlying health conditions (heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, for instance) seem to be at greater risk of serious illness. There is no vaccine for COVID-19 or medication to treat it, only its symptoms. As such, the CDC recommends that individuals receive the influenza vaccination and engage in everyday preventive measures to prevent the spread of germs and avoid illness, such as:
• Wash hands frequently, using with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, but soap
and water are preferable.
• Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
• Stay home when sick. The CDC recommends that individuals remain home for at least 24
hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (i.e., chills, feeling warm,
• Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately discard the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Take any anti-viral medication prescribed as instructed.
For more information, visit the CDC website.