WASHINGTON, D.C.—Following the announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that it has declared the coronavirus a nationwide public health emergency, emergency physicians are taking the threat of an outbreak seriously, but stress that the risk to the broader public remains low.
“At this time, the risk in the U.S. of contracting coronavirus remains low,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “It is important to understand your risk factors and practice good hygiene.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges anyone that has been in the Wuhan, China region within the last two weeks and developed a fever, cough or had trouble breathing to seek medical care.
Emergency physicians train extensively to help prevent, treat, and mitigate the spread of highly contagious viruses, such as coronavirus, Ebola, and Zika. Emergency departments nationwide have protocols in place to protect the public and work alongside hospitals and health professionals to stop the spread of the virus and report relevant cases to local, state and national health departments.
“Americans are far more likely to get the flu than the coronavirus, but you protect yourself against both viruses the same way: get the flu shot, wash your hands regularly and cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue,” said Dr. Jaquis.