Local healthcare professionals prepare for potential coronavirus outbreak.
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020
It’s only a matter of time before the new coronavirus spreads across the United States, including Virginia, a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official warned today. Earlier this week, the Virginia Department of Health revealed that one person in the northern region and another in the southwest region are being tested for the virus, now officially called COVID-19, however no cases have been confirmed in the Commonwealth.
Peter Glagola, a Riverside Health System spokesperson, said the question is no longer if the coronavirus will spread but when that will happen. Speaking with WilliamsburgVisitor.com, he stressed that the area’s health officials are taking precautions and are prepared. “Riverside has an internal meeting every Monday that the health department participates in, and we get weekly updates with what’s going on in the state,” Glagola said. Starting next week, area health officials from Riverside, Sentara and others including the Virginia Department of Health, will be meeting to discuss coordinated approaches to a potential outbreak.
Symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to seasonal influenza. Both viruses can cause fever, cough, body aches and fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea, and can result in pneumonia. Like the flu, the coronavirus is spread from person-to-person by sneezing and coughing. Experts are urging communities, schools and businesses in Virginia and elsewhere to begin preparing now for potential impact.
Riverside utilizes single-person airborne-isolation rooms where patients who present with a contagious illness can be quarantined. These negative-pressure rooms are designed to prevent the spread of the virus to the rest of the hospital. For those who have not been infected, Glagola stressed that that common good-health practices are vital. “Frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and staying home from work or school during the course of the illness can help control the spread,” he said.
The spread of the coronavirus has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency, with some experts predicting a worldwide pandemic. As a result, U.S. officials strongly advise against travel to China and South Korea. Travel alerts have also been issued for seniors and people with compromised immune systems. These recommendations advise postponing nonessential travel to Italy, Iran and Japan.
The US Department of Homeland Security recommends storing a two-week supply of water and food, and over-the-counter medications. According to the Department, you should have “nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.” Children who are ill should stay home from school and other gathering places including daycare centers and events. Adults should talk to their employers about the possibility of working from home.