The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes COVID-19 disease) is everywhere, at least figuratively speaking. It consumes the headlines, both public and private conversations, and is having a consequential impact on the financial markets. As the virus continues to spread, countries around the world take preventative action, events are being cancelled, airlines are reducing flights and international travel is being discouraged.
Following over 95,000 of confirmed infections in more than 86 countries, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have upgraded the public health alert to a Warning Level 3 - its most severe advisory - which recommends avoiding all nonessential travel. More than 3,200 people have died from the virus, including 12 deaths in the United States.
The U.S. Travel Association, an industry trade group, has predicted a 6% drop in international travel into the U.S. over the next three months.
"There is a lot of uncertainty around coronavirus," said Roger Dow, the association's president, in a statement. "It is pretty clear that it is having an effect on travel demand — not just from China, and not just internationally, but for domestic business and leisure travel as well.”
It's important to be aware of coronavirus facts, risks and prevention methods. Travel is a primary concern for many, especially given that millions of people use public transportation to and from work and school each day. Picture packed trains, planes and subways full of coughing, hacking and sneezing people, casting glances of irritated suspicion at one another.
If you have a chronic illness or immunosuppression condition, or are elderly, you may be at a greater risk if exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and should therefore avoid travel and large public events. The good news? If you have existing travel plans, many airlines are offering cancellation deals and updating their fee waiver policies, to accommodate those avoiding travel due to coronavirus concerns.
Event cancellations are increasing as more companies take preventative action. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have pulled out of March's highly-attended SXSW festival in Austin, while the American Physical Society cancelled a conference of 10,000 people in Denver with less than 36 hours' notice. Google called off its flagship developers conference, called I/O, "due to concerns around the coronavirus." Apple has restricted employee travel to China, Italy and South Korea, while JPMorgan has curbed nonessential employee travel, according to Bloomberg News.
The WHO offers the following advice to travelers on their website:
It is prudent for travelers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.
General recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and keeping a distance of at least one meter from persons showing symptoms remain particularly important for all travelers. These include:
- Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer are preferred if hands are not visibly soiled; wash hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled;
- Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose immediately of the tissue and perform hand hygiene;
- Refrain from touching mouth and nose;
- A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask – of any type – protects non-sick persons. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to follow best practices on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal.
Maintaining good health is important during an illness outbreak, and that includes a focus on mental wellness.
"We've got national anxiety at the moment, a kind of shared stress, and we are all in a state of extreme uncertainty," says Catherine Belling, an associate professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, who studies the role of fear and anxiety in health care.
In a time of public health risk, armchair experts will offer plenty of advice – much of it contradictory. When in doubt, the best solution is to stay updated on the latest reports from the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO).
For prevention at home, the CDC is currently recommending the disinfection of surfaces with EPA-approved/EPA-registered disinfectants. Strict adherence to label guidelines is necessary for effective disinfecting. People often use disinfectant cleaners improperly, which can mean they're simply spreading the germs around instead of killing them. This can actually encourage dangerous bacterial growth. Learn more about effective disinfecting.
Based upon proven disinfecting ability against other, similar pathogens, the Federal EPA has mandated a process whereby companies that do not have specific testing against an emerging viral pathogen may make statements as to whether a disinfectant may be used to reasonably mitigate it.
Simple Green products and the SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease):
Simple Green Clean Finish has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 on hard, non-porous surfaces. Therefore, Simple Green Clean Finish can be used against SARS-CoV-2 when used in accordance with the directions for use against Poliovirus Type 1 on hard, non-porous surfaces. Refer to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus for additional information.
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Please direct questions about this to Carol Chapin, Vice President of Research & Development, Sunshine Makers, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.