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As the Coronavirus outbreak emerges from Wuhan, China continues to spread internationally, locals and travelers alike have serious questions about how to stay healthy and protect themselves from the Coronavirus outbreak while traveling. Given that the World Health Organization has declared this as being a global health emergency, all travel between mainland China and the United States has been suspended until otherwise reported. So what does that mean for American travelers who recently visited China or were in China during the outbreak?
There were many Americans who were physically in China when the outbreak of Wuhan Coronavirus began. Once the World Health Organization declared the international health emergency, these U.S. citizens were evacuated from the country, primarily from the mainland. There have only been seven confirmed cases of someone transferring the disease within the United States, beginning with a woman returning from Wuhan and passing it along to her husband. Of the 362 reported deaths due to the new Coronavirus outbreak, only one has happened outside of China and occurred in the Philippines.
If you’ve recently traveled to China, the best thing to do is frequently wash your hands with soap and water, cover your coughs or sneezes and avoid being in contact with others who are coughing and sneezing, and keep on the lookout for symptoms of a common cold, respiratory illness, or intestinal discomfort. Any of these can reflect symptoms of the Wuhan Coronavirus, so it’s best to get tested immediately if you’re concerned. In fact, the CDC has requested that anyone recently returning from a trip to China quarantine themselves for 14 days to ensure their own health and that of those they might come into contact with.
If you’re needing to be able to travel to China right now in spite of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention calling for there to be no travel to or from mainland China for now and the State Department listing China at a level 4 (meaning “do not travel”), you will find some restrictions barring your path. American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines have banned all flights to and from China until further notice. Hong Kong, because of its location, will still receive American Airlines flights.
The vast majority of cases have taken place within China’s borders, but there have been confirmed cases in 25 additional countries so far, including:
As mentioned above, the only two countries which have seen deaths due to the spread of the virus. It is also unclear at this time as to whether or not all of the Coronavirus-related deaths occurred in someone with a compromised immune system, although you’re much more likely to recover quickly if you’re healthy. Most individuals will experience flu-like symptoms, possibly some respiratory distress, and recover within a matter of a week or two.
Contrary to what you might have heard, wearing face masks is not currently recommended by the CDC. Not all face masks are the same, and standard, cheap masks may not be enough to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Additionally, if a mask is used improperly (not tight enough to prevent holes on the sides, using it more than once when they’re meant to be single-use, or touching the face mask after use and immediately touching other surfaces), the whole concept becomes pointless.
Health officials agree that the most effective methods of protection at this time are to limit travel to affected areas, keep your distances from anyone who’s sick, and regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and utilize hand sanitizers when available. While these methods are still not foolproof, you’re significantly less likely to become ill if you’re taking your personal hygiene seriously.
The actual flu has proven to be significantly more deadly than this novel Coronavirus, and many of the international precautions being taken are to limit the spread of the disease while officials learn more about it. There is no need to panic, especially if you’re taking an active interest in your health and that of your loved ones. Pull information from reliable sources like the World Health Organization’s or CDC’s websites and adjust day to day behaviors accordingly.
If you feel as though you are experiencing similar symptoms associated with the Coronavirus, do not hesitate to visit the nearest Village Emergency Center near you. At Village Emergency Centers, we have a full staff of board-certified physicians ready at a moment’s notice. No matter the time of day, have confidence you’ll receive expert care without the wait.