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STEVE ASHMORE: Don’t panic over the coronavirus

Steve Ashmore
Gannett Florida blogger
Walton Sun

The hysteria over the coronavirus has me thinking. I’m not downplaying the seriousness of over 2,700 who have died, but every time we have an outbreak of a previously unknown illness the word pandemic gets tossed into the equation.

We recently had a scare locally that shut down an immediate care clinic for several hours. Because it’s suspected to be airborne, the recommended protocol is isolation. This includes limiting the number of health care professionals who treat the patient, moving the patient to a negative pressure room if possible, notifying other patients of the potential of infection and what symptoms to look for, and numerous other precautions.

We’ve been warned by the Centers for Disease Control that the virus presents a serious public health threat. As of last week, there were 53 confirmed cases in the United States. Fourteen of those were related to travel to China or close household contact and 39 were from repatriated citizens who were evacuated or quarantined.

Some countries have implemented intervention techniques such as school closings or canceling large social events. Some businesses are using teleconferencing in lieu of face-to-face meetings. Travel bans are recommended for China and Iran as well as South Korea and Italy. Foreign nationals from the first two are being denied entry into our country. Japan is currently considered unsafe for older adults and anyone with a chronic medical condition.

But all in all, the main concern of this particular virus not so much the mortality rate as its ability to spread quickly. It’s expected that about 3% of those who infected will die and a good portion of those are identified as having medical conditions at the onset.

So what should you do? Use good common sense; stay home if you’re sick instead of going to work. The world can do without you for a few days. Symptoms are similar to the common flu, so if you’re running a fever and coughing go get checked by a physician. But call first and advise them you’re coming and why. Give the office a chance to prepare for your visit or perhaps refer you to a more appropriate facility.

It’s flu season everyone, protect yourself and your loved ones with good common sense practices.

Read all of Steve Ashmore’s blogs.