How to prepare for a coronavirus pandemic
- US citizens have been told to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.
- The virus, which originated in China, has started to spread rapidly throughout South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Iran.
- The World Health Organization has so far hesitated to call the outbreak a pandemic, but some health experts say that it is.
- People who want to prepare in advance should keep a two-week supply of food and water and a 30-day supply of prescription medication.
- Other measures, like wearing a face mask, are too extreme unless recommended by a health authority.
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Americans got a dire warning from health officials on Tuesday: Prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.
"It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Tuesday. "We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad."
Since then, the Centers for Disease Control have reported several US cases in which patients got the virus unknown sources - they did not travel to China or knowingly interact with anyone who was infected. These instances of community spread suggest the virus is now spreading in the US. The first coronavirus death on US soil was reported on Saturday in Washington state.
Other nations are already facing more severe outbreaks. The virus has infected more than 3,000 people in South Korea and hundreds in Italy, Japan, and Iran.
More than 78,000 people have been infected and nearly 2,800 people have died in mainland China.
At least 50 million people have been quarantined in China for more than a month, and other nations are initiating lockdowns as the outbreak grows.
The World Health Organization has thus far hesitated to call the virus a pandemic, but some health experts have said it has already reached that status. Either way, Bruce Aylward, a public-health expert with the WHO, said the world is "simply not ready" to contain the outbreak.
Here's what you can do to prepare.
Keep a two-week supply of food and water.
Stock up on over-the-counter medication, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and pet food.
Order medications ahead of time. You'll want a month's supply.
Have copies of your medical records handy.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, making sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds.
Avoid traveling to the following coronavirus hotspots: China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.
Continue healthy habits like exercising, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep.
Get the flu shot if you haven't already. It won't protect you from the coronavirus, but it will reduce the chances that you require medical treatment in hospitals that are treating coronavirus patients.
Stay at least 6 feet away from people who display symptoms such as a dry cough or sneezing.
Don't wear a face mask unless instructed to by a health authority.
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