As the number of cases of coronavirus COVID-19 grows worldwide, the US CDC has detailed the primary ways in which the SARS-like illness could be spread, and which routes it is most concerned with. The first person-to-person infection in the US was confirmed at the end of January 2020, and since then the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have held several briefings to outline exactly what people should – and shouldn’t – be worried about.
One of the most pressing questions is the mechanisms of just how that person-to-person spread might take place. COVID-19 has a roughly fourteen day incubation period, and one of the challenges that healthcare providers face is that, if tested too early, the current tests for the infection can return a false-negative.
“Based on what we know now, we believe this virus spreads mainly from person to person, among close contact, which is defined as about six feet, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” Nancy Messonnier, M.D., Director at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said today during a CDC briefing. “People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic: that is, when they are the sickest.”
There are, however, two other ways by which coronavirus could be transmitted. “Some spread may happen by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, and mouth,” Dr Messonnier added. “But remember, we believe that this virus does not last long on surfaces. Some spread may happen before people show symptoms. There have been a few reports of this with the new coronavirus, and it is compatible with what we know about other respiratory viruses, including seasonal flu.”
In reality, it’s coughing and sneezing that is the primary concern. “Right now, we do not believe these last two forms of transmission are the main driver of spread,” Dr Messonnier said.
Disease surveillance is ramping up in response
Five public health labs around the US have already been brought online to add COVID-19 surveillance to their existing work. “We are looking at existing surveillance systems both for influenza and for respiratory diseases,” Dr Messonnier explained. “Results from this surveillance would be an early-warning signal to trigger a change in our response strategy.”
The fear is that, while not currently an issue, coronavirus contagion could become more widespread. Although not guaranteed, that’s something the CDC and other agencies are getting ready for. “We must prepare for the possibility that at some point we may see sustained community spread in other countries, or in the US, and this will trigger a change in our response strategy,” Dr Messonnier said.
The current public health labs are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City. “This is just the starting point, and we plan to expand to more sites in the comping weeks until we have national surveillance,” the NCIRD director confirmed.
A testing delay
One of the biggest steps taken already was to expand testing of potentially-infected samples, using a fast-tracked coronavirus assessment. That hit a snag recently, when reports from external labs indicated non-conclusive results were being produced. Investigations by those labs and the CDCs identified problems in the reagents being used as part of the test.
The CDC is currently reformulating those reagents, Dr Messonnier confirmed, though there’s no timescale for when they might be ready for redeployment.
Meanwhile, however, the biggest risk for most people still isn’t COVID-19 at all. H1N1, aka Influenza A, has seen a sudden rise in numbers of infections in the US this season, in line with 2018’s “severe” rating. So far there have been 250,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths.
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The list of symptoms that have been associated with the virus is not a small one. According to the CDC, symptoms such as a dry cough, fatigue, low-grade fever, body aches, nasal congestion and sore throat are the most common with COVID-19. In addition, symptoms such as the loss of the senses of taste and smell, diarrhea and the appearance of conjunctivitis – commonly known as “pink eye” – have also been seen.
Here's what you should know about wearing cloth face masks – CollingwoodToday
Medical officials are still stopping short of recommending the general public wear homemade masks, but they are suggesting a cloth mask could help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said today a homemade cloth mask could help someone who doesn’t know they have the virus keep from spreading it to others.
“People should be aware they’re not of proven value,” said Gardner. “If there is any value in them it’s more from the point of view of avoiding infecting others.”
A cloth mask could keep droplets from your nose and mouth from entering someone else’s airway or landing on and contaminating a surface.
“They have not been shown to prevent respiratory viruses from entering your airway,” said Gardner.
But it shouldn’t replace any of the other preventative measures being recommended by public health organizations in the province and country.
“What’s really important is that people do their physical distancing and their handwashing,” said Gardner.
He also recommends people stay home, think twice about whether or not they need to go out, and if they do, to focus on quick trips for essential items while still maintaining a two-metre separation with any other people.
“The more we do, the better we do this, the less that surge will be,” said Gardner. “April is a very key month for us in this outbreak. This month we’re going to see the extent to which the surge occurs. If we were very successful it will be a limited surge. If we were less successful it will be a bigger surge more likely to overwhelm our healthcare system.”
There are now 98 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region, more than 10 of those at Bradford Valley, a long-term care facility.
Gardner stressed members of the general public should not be wearing medical-grade masks.
“All of those we really need to retain for healthcare workers because of a limited supply,” he said.
Additionally, there are specific fits and protocols that make surgical masks and N95 masks effective PPE. Without following those specifications, a medical-grade mask will not offer effective protection.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 including coughing and sneezing, stay home, indoors, for at least 14 days.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer of health, said today people can use homemade cloth masks to prevent spreading the virus to others. She said there is increasing evidence people can transmit the virus before knowing they are sick, and keeping their mouth and nose covered while in public – in addition to frequent handwashing and physical distancing – could help reduce spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted some tips on its website on using cloth face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC says to use a mask that fits snugly, is secured with ties or ear loops, includes multiple layers of fabric, and can be laundered and machine dried without changing shape.
If you are using a cloth mask, put it on before you go out in public, and then don’t touch it or your face again. Once at home, remove the mask without touching your face, and put it in the laundry. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect surfaces you touched on the way in.
The CDC also states a cloth face mask is an additional, voluntary public health measure and should only be used with proper handwashing and physical distancing practices.
You can find sewing and no-sew instructions for cloth face masks on the CDC website.
Homemade face masks can protect others, but not you: health officials – CTV News Winnipeg
The increase in demand for personal protective equipment has led to an increase in demand for homemade face masks.
Monday both the Federal and Provincial Government said there’s a benefit to wearing homemade masks when in public.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer for Canada, said the Special Advisory Committee for COVID-19 concluded wearing a non-surgical mask can help protect those around you, but it doesn’t protect the person wearing it,
“Wearing a non-medical mask in the community does not mean you can back off of the public health measures that we know work to protect you,” said Tam.
She said we can’t “relax” any of our physical distancing efforts, but added people who want to wear masks as an extra precaution can make them out of household items.
”Simple things, not complicated,” said Tam. “If you can get a cotton material like a t-shirt, you cut up, fold it, (and) put elastic bands around it. Those are the kind of facial coverings we’re talking about.”
Some Manitobans have been pulling out the needle and thread to craft homemade face masks.
Grace Webb, the creator of the Facebook page Face Masks for Manitoba, said she got the idea to sew masks and donate them after reading a U.S. article.
She said the idea snowballed and she started the Facebook group so other mask makers could join her.
“From there it became apparent that people wanted to do this but didn’t have material,” said Webb. “So I thought, why don’t we (build) a kit we can send to people with everything they need to make mask.”
Webb said she’s donating the masks to care homes and people in the community.
Each mask comes with instructions on how to clean them properly, along with a reminder to practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer for Manitoba said wearing a non-surgical mask is like coughing into your sleeve.
He said he doesn’t want this information about homemade masks to distract from the most important message.
“If you were staying home before, stay home now,” said Roussin. “Don’t go out now because somebody has said we can use cloth or non medical masks.”
Webb said she’ll continue to sew homemade masks as long as there’s a need.
“I hope it gives them some comfort and a little bit more security,” Said Webb. “I would love to say that we did something to help slow the spread.”
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