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We know you are concerned about Novel coronavirus (COVID-19). South Whidbey Fire/EMS, your community first responders, are taking this disease very seriously and we are prepared. A good source for additional and accurate information is the Department of Health website

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What is novel coronavirus?

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person in China and other countries, including the United States. In most instances, cases outside of China have been associated with travelers from China. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.

How does novel coronavirus spread?

Health experts are still learning the details.  Currently, it is thought to spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes; and between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). It is important to wash your hands. The virus can also spread through indirect contact. i.e. one patient sneezes or coughs on their hand and then touches a doorknob. An hour later, the second person touches that same doorknob and then wipes his or her hand on their nose, or eats some finger food, with that same hand.

How severe is novel coronavirus?

Experts are still learning about the range of illness from novel coronavirus. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.

What are the symptoms?

People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Who is at risk for novel coronavirus?

Currently the risk to the general public is low. At this time, there are a small number of individual cases in the U.S. To minimize the risk of spread, health officials are working with healthcare providers to promptly identify and evaluate any suspected cases.

Travelers to and from certain areas of the world may be at increased risk. Although coronavirus originated geographically in Wuhan, China, the disease is not specific to any ethnic group. Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness.

Who needs Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19 infection should wear a facemask (N95 rated respirator) when being evaluated medically. Patients who are exhibiting these signs and symptoms may see first responders dressed in masks, safety glasses, or other PPE. If you are healthy you do not need to wear PPE, unless you are in close proximity to a known or suspected COVID-19 patient.

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