There’s been a lot of chatter this week about the coronavirus and what would happen if someone was infected in Sebastian, Florida.
At this time, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Sebastian. All hospitals in Brevard and Indian River County are prepared.
The HIPAA law protects patient health information, and hospitals would never tell anyone or the press that a patient is infected with the coronavirus.
However, local, state, and federal health agencies investigate coronavirus cases. Once a case is confirmed, the county health department will release the information to the public and press. They usually do not release the patient’s name.
Is coronavirus like the flu?
“Influenza ‘the flu’ and COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, are both infectious respiratory illnesses. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses,” Dr. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement.
Dr. Maragakis said that COVID-19 is caused by one virus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. The flu is caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.
“While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways, there is also a possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near,” said Dr. Maragakis.
There are approximately 97,870 COVID-19 cases worldwide; 209 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 5, 2020. Approximately 3,347 deaths have been reported worldwide; 11 deaths in the U.S. as of Mar. 5, 2020.
There are an estimated 1 billion flu cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year. The flu has caused 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.
Unlike the flu, there are no antiviral medications available for COVID-19. There are tests being done. There is no vaccine available at this time.
“The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Since this disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away. Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu,” Dr. Maragakis added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
If someone in Sebastian contracts coronavirus, that still does not mean others will be infected.
More importantly, as Sebastian Daily has said repeatedly, don’t panic. Take preventative steps and make sure you wash your hands regularly.