FAQ: Novel Coronavirus

March 12, 2020

Q: What is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

A: It is a new strain of the coronavirus first detected in China in December 2019 that causes mild to moderate upper and lower respiratory tract illness. In some cases, it can cause severe complications like pneumonia. Early symptoms can be similar to a common cold or the flu and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. So far, the Novel Coronavirus is not as virulent as previous new coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS.

Q: How does one get the Novel Coronavirus?

A: One contracts the Novel Coronavirus from water droplets expelled when a sick person sneezes or coughs. Also, it can spread when one touches a contaminated surface like a doorknob or a handrail and then touches one’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Q: How does one prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus or the common flu?

A: To prevent the spread of the flu or the Novel Coronavirus, follow these simple precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu vaccine.

Q: What should I do if I believe I have been exposed to Novel Coronavirus?

A: If you have traveled from a country with a CDC Travel Warning - Level 3 or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days and are experiencing Novel Coronavirus symptoms, you should contact health services at 803-777-3175. It is recommended that those who think they may have been exposed call ahead before going to see a doctor or emergency room.

COVID-19 Factsheet 

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