The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to spread, and the headlines this week point towards a likely rise in cases in the western hemisphere with dozens of countries now reporting cases. Two deaths occurred in the US so far. The number of patients may increase if the pattern in other countries is repeated.

As a Pulmonologist and Critical Care specialist who deals with the sickest of patients with respiratory failure related to infections like COVID19 (Coronavirus), I would like to advise all of us to take this pandemic seriously and follow the recommendations of public health officials. Here are simple steps that everyone can follow, and they are based on public health practices and our religious practices:

    1. If you have or have been exposed to someone who suffers from a contagious illness like the flu, common cold, or the new coronavirus (COVID19), you have the responsibility of preventing harm to others by staying home and not to spread the disease to others.
    2. Consult with your doctor if you have fever, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.
    3. Limit unnecessary international travel, and avoid traveling to China, South Korea, Japan and Italy.
    4. Wash your hands frequently, and wash them well, for at least 20 seconds, in between the fingers, under the fingernails and including the wrist with soap and water, or use antiseptic or hand sanitizer frequently especially after you touch others or shake hands.
    5. Wash your nose and mouth frequently like what you do during Ablution (Wudu).
    6. Avoid shaking hands or hugging people unnecessarily.
    7. Avoid coming to the Mosque or other gatherings if you are sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick.
    8. Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze with a napkin or your arm at the inside of your elbow.
    9. Use a mask only if you are sick or exposed to someone who is sick. There is no need to use a mask if you are not sick or a healthcare provider. No need to buy N95 masks. It is not recommended to the general public, and it won’t provide you with adequate protection. You are hurting healthcare workers who will need it by creating shortage in the market.
    10. Get your influenza vaccine if you haven’t already: this will reduce the amount of viral respiratory cases in the community.
    11. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    12. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    13. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
    14. Please check the CDC website for the most accurate information and feel free to contact infection prevention if you have any questions.
    15.  And no, it is not conspiracy or hoax. We have the best healthcare system in the world but we need to do our part.

By Dr. Zaher Sahloul, MD

Follow up with the latest updates from the CDC HERE.