Keeping Your Family Safe From the Coronavirus

A new respiratory virus, a type of coronavirus, has garnered international headlines as the World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, to discuss whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Cases of the virus have been confirmed in the U.S., China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

The PHEIC status has been given to outbreaks of swine flu, SARS, MERS, Ebola and Zika. This strain of the coronavirus originated in China, and to date, there have been 17 confirmed deaths and 300 confirmed cases in the country, coming from Wuhan in the Hubei Province. The first U.S. case was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington state, involving a man who had just returned from China. Here’s everything a parent needs to know about the virus.

What is coronavirus?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus is actually a family of viruses, many of which present themselves similarly to the common cold and don’t pose much of a threat. The current outbreak is a new virus, however, which is closely associated with pneumonia that can then become fatal. The CDC are closely monitoring the new virus and have said they’re unsure what threat it poses to people in the U.S.

What are the symptoms?

The deadly virus can cause pneumonia as well as common cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, headache, sore throat and cough.

What can parents do to stay healthy at work?

The virus was originally spread from animal to human, but is now mostly being spread from human to human. It’s commonly spread through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, touching a contaminated surface and then touching the face and, rarely, fecal contamination. The CDC suggest washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

What can parents do to protect their kids in daycare/school?

The CDC suggest staying home if you or your children are feeling unwell. They predict that the virus is spreading from person to person and suggest making sure any potentially exposed items are sanitized and hands are washed thoroughly frequently, treating it similarly to the flu.