Ask the Pharmacist: Mar/Apr 2020

Q: I am worried about the coronavirus; can you give me more information?

A: Coronaviruses are from a large family of respiratory viruses that cause an upper-respiratory infection. A new coronavirus — called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) — is said to be the cause of this outbreak in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It is spread through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing.

In the U.S., the flu is a much greater concern. As of January 31, there have been over 19 million cases, 180,000 hospitalizations, and 10,000 deaths in the U.S. In California alone, 211 people died from the flu between October and January, and 37 of them were under the age of 50! In comparison, there have been 259 deaths from coronavirus worldwide through January 31.

The good news is that prevention is the same for both flu and coronavirus, except that no vaccine exists for coronavirus…yet.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people that are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces frequently.