Keeping clear of coronavirus

By YooJin Son, Assistant News Editor

With the outbreak of the coronavirus starting in December from the Wuhan province of China, taking cautious actions to protect the immune system has become a prominent priority. Medical face masks and hand sanitizer have seen a rise in demand, and ultimately price, with health officials and media outlets advising confusing health guidelines.

The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, also known as the COVID-19.

UI System president Timothy Killeen announced last Monday a new COVID-19 Planning and Response Team has been established to help coordinate the system’s response to and communication about the virus. Lead by Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the team encompasses experts from all three UI System universities.

Monitoring the outbreak, disseminating information and supporting systems to effectively oversee virus activity, Killeen hopes the team is only a “short-term assignment, designed to fit the needs and demands presented by this emergent situation,” he said in a letter to senior leadership in the universities’ system offices.

Declaring the coronavirus outbreak a “global health emergency” on Jan. 30, the World Health Organization and institutions across the nation have advised precautionary steps to avoid the virus.

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From simple, everyday precautions such as washing your hands and keeping a social distance of 3 feet to avoid transmission of the virus to taking protective measures for those who have visited contaminated areas past 14 days, WHO urges people to stay hygienic and aware of coronavirus updates.

Avoiding countries designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisories as Level 2 and 3 is strongly advised. Individuals who have visited these countries are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. While Japan is alone at CDC Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions; Italy, South Korea, Iran and China are at Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel.

With the outbreak, medical masks have been spotted more than ever. However, wearing of the mask is only effective if accompanied by frequent hand-washing and adequate wearing and disposal.

While evaluating the situation, WHO and the UI System encourage individuals to take the following as protective actions.

  • It is not too late to get a flu shot.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Seek medical care early if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.


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