Here are five important things to keep in mind to help you limit your potential exposure to novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19:
- What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is a virus that causes mild cold-like symptoms in the majority of patients, but could lead to more serious illness, including pneumonia, in elderly people and those who have chronic medical conditions. Thus, elderly people and patients with chronic medical conditions should take greater precautions to avoid exposure.
- What precautions should you take? Everyone is encouraged to take precautions to avoid being exposed to COVID-19 – regardless of age or precondition. Stay away from crowds and others who are sick, wash your hands often and for about 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face. It’s also a good idea to clean and disinfect surfaces you touch.
- What should you do if you think you have cold-like symptoms? If you develop cold-like symptoms, stay home, rest and avoid exposing others until you feel better. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or you develop shortness of breath.
- What should you do if you have traveled recently? Be sure to call your doctor if you have traveled to a country with widespread COVID-19 within the last two weeks and have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath. Call ahead and let a healthcare provider know your symptoms and travel history before you visit a doctor’s office or emergency room, so we can help keep everyone safe from any potential spread.
- Consider virtual care to help reduce your risk of exposure. For easy access to a doctor for urgent care visits without leaving home, use online care from your phone or mobile device.
Be sure to contact your doctor with questions. For ongoing updates, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary website.
Stewart Watson, MD, is clinical vice president and medical director of primary care for the North Region of Ascension Wisconsin.