Novel coronavirus infection, which is now officially known as COVID-19, does not currently present an immediate threat to King County or our state. But, as we watch the outbreak continue to spread in China and elsewhere, we should take this opportunity to prepare now, in case it becomes a significant health threat locally.

Understanding how we respond to pandemics is part of preparing. Furthermore, many of the same steps that are part of our national, state and local pandemic influenza preparedness plans are likely to be useful for novel coronavirus preparedness. Again, it’s a good idea to be familiar with what might be recommended in order to help prepare now, before an outbreak occurs.

What are some of the steps we can do personally?

  • Stay home when you are sick. Staying home when ill prevents the spread of infections to others.
  • Use good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene in all community settings, including homes, childcare facilities, schools, workplaces, and other places where people gather. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and put the used tissue in a waste basket. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60-95% alcohol).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth: Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

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