Health Center prepares students in case of Novel Coronavirus

By Juan Calvillo

The Student Health Center explained available health resources, sanitary options and facts about the Coronavirus during a meeting on Thursday. The informational meeting was conducted by Cecilia Cruz and Michelle Quon. Cruz, coordinator of the student Health Center, said that if students feel ill they are welcome to come to the health center for a check up. 

The Center for Disease Control in the United States has said that the risk of getting COVID-19 is still low. But in a press call yesterday the CDC said people should prepare for what it called “community spread” of the disease in the near future. 

Cruz said the health center does not have the capabilities to confirm if the patient has the virus. She said that no one at  ELAC has been found to have the virus. She said that if students have concerns or questions they can stop by the center or call 323-265-8651 to get more information.

Quon, family practitioner nurse from Via Care for the Health Center, said that the World Health Organization has officially named the disease COVID-19 as of Feb. 11. She said that there is a series of questions that can help quickly differentiate between the virus and what might be a more common virus. 

Quon said the questions include if the patient has traveled to the epicenter of the virus outbreak, Wuhan, China. Then a check would be done for the various symptoms that are part of the disease. These symptoms include a fever, cough, difficulty breathing and severe illness according to the Department of Public Health for the county of Los Angeles. Quon said that if the answer to the first question is yes, then protocol would take over, and that includes sending the patient to an emergency room. 

She said that to protect against the virus, and viruses like the flu, normal sanitary measures are key.

This is due to the disease spreading from droplets that come from the coughs of those infected, which can be breathed in. Droplets can also land on surfaces and then others can interact with them.  Keeping areas clean is advised, as well as keeping people sanitized and clean.

Simple things like washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and using hand sanitizer are key when trying to stay healthy. Quon said that if tissues are used that they should be immediately thrown away. 

She said that if students use face masks, then proper usage should be followed. This would include not touching the front of the mask and keeping your hands away from your eyes. Quon said that keeping a social distance of three feet from people who may be sick is also good. She said that getting the flu vaccine is important right now. “I would suggest getting [the] influenza vaccine, “flu shot”, because there is a higher risk of transmission of influenza than COVID-19. The flu shot can be given at the student health center at no additional cost as long as the health fee is paid.”

Quon said that the major battle is against influenza. She said that when it comes to the flu, about 10.1 percent die due to pneumonia influenza in LA County. This makes prevention and addressing of the flu the major issue.

The WHO website advises many of the same things Quon said are key to staying healthy in this season. “When coughing and sneezing, cover (your) mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue.  Discard the tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch,” says the WHO website.

Quon said that the virus is a part of the family of viruses that cause multiple respiratory diseases. She said the virus has a 14 day incubation period. Quon said that while COVID-19 is active, that it’s spread should be put into context. 

Quon said that when SARS was active in 2002-2003 there were a total of eight cases in the United States. When MERS was active in 2014 there were two US cases. 

As of Feb. 25 the CDC has confirmed 14 cases in the US. With 39 repatriated, returned, to the US from Wuhan, China, three, and from the Diamond Cruiseship, 39. The WHO website has 79,331 cases world wide with 715 new cases reported as of Feb. 25, more than 77,000 cases are centered in China. The remaining are world wide.

Cruz said that because of the virus’ country of origin, it may be easy to judge international students. She said that because of this it’s important to remember to be sensitive to these students. Quon said that staying informed from credible sources like the CDC, the WHO, and the LA County Department of Public Health was crucial.

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