Common Sense Measures for Avoiding the Spread of Both Influenza and Coronavirus
by Christopher Cimino, MD, FACMI, VP of Medical Academics, Kaplan Medical | February 10, 2020
It is human nature to be cautious of the unknown. When a new threat emerges, that caution can be amplified by the lack of information. The resulting behavior can create additional problems that compound the original risk. Paradoxically, when a risk is well understood, people are less likely to worry even if mathematically it is greater risk than the unknown risk. This is what we see when we compare the novel coronavirus outbreak to influenza. As of February 1st, 2020 the CDC estimates over 12,000 deaths and 120,000 hospitalizations related to the current influenza outbreak in the United States. This is more than the number of deaths and cases of coronavirus worldwide as of February 2nd, 2020. One important preventive measure is educating the public to reduce panic and help ensure people take common sense measures.
Fortunately, the same strategies will protect people from both influenza and coronavirus:
1) Wash your hands frequently
2) Sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand
3) Get the flu vaccine. It's not too late. Preventing influenza means your body is better prepared to combat coronavirus.
The most reliable and up to date sources of information on influenza and coronavirus are the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Cimino has earned a reputation internationally as an award-winning medical educator. He was the founding Assistant Dean for Educational Informatics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and former Associate Dean for Student Affairs at New York Medical College. He is board certified in Neurology and Clinical Informatics. He served as a member of the NBME Step 1 Behavioral Science Committee and the NBME End of Life Care Task Force.