Am I at risk? For most people, risk is low. Those at higher risk include anyone who has come into contact with someone who has the virus or anyone who has traveled to an area where community spread is occurring. Senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of having severe symptoms if they contract the virus.

Should I get tested? Whether to test is determined by a doctor, but tests are limited to those who have traveled to an area where cases are spreading, those who have come into contact with someone who has the virus or those with severe symptoms that have not been diagnosed as something else, like the flu.

What is it? The current coronavirus disease strain, COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, China, and has spread to more than 100 countries, including the United States. Maine has not yet seen a confirmed case, but officials believe that it will likely happen soon. There have been more than 100,000 cases worldwide and more than 3,800 have died.

What are the symptoms? The most common systems associated with the coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath, which are all symptoms of the common flu. Those who have symptoms should contact their doctor, but experts advise people who are symptomatic NOT to go a doctor’s officer or walk-in clinic unannounced.

How does it spread? Coronavirus spreads person-to-person, usually from close contact (less than 6 feet). It also can spread through respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing.

What can I do to lower my chance of exposure? As with all respiratory diseases, there are steps people can take to lower risk. They include: Staying home when sick; avoiding those who are sick; avoiding touching your face; washing hands for at least 20 seconds. Most people do not need to wear face masks, per CDC guidelines. Those at higher risk should stock up on supplies, limit close contact and avoid crowds if possible.

 

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