Coronavirus continues to evolve

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


By Neil Kaneshiro, MD

The coronavirus that was first detected in first detected in Wuhan City, China continues to evolve and now has an official name: COVID-19. 

Advice for the general public in the U.S. remains the same: Get your flu vaccine. Cover your cough. Stay home if ill.

Advice for travelers

Check the CDC website for the latest travel precaution recommendations. If you have traveled to an affected area or have a known exposure to COVID-19 call your doctor for advice. If you must go to the doctor's office, call ahead so they can make arrangements to avoid possible spread.

The Centers for Disease Control have placed travel alerts for China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Hong Kong. In addition, there appears to be some community spread of the illness in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam but the activity is not at a level that would warrant a travel alert at this time. Community spread is when the virus is in the community and there is risk just by being in that area. The CDC website with this information is updated regularly.

There have only been a handful of cases in the U.S. at this time, most of them in people who had traveled in Asia. The individual risk of COVID-19 disease in the U.S. is considered low at this time. However, as more countries experience community spread, it is likely that the virus will spread worldwide. 

Prior outbreaks of coronavirus have caused severe disease in people. However, COVID-19 is not fully understood at this time. Illness has ranged from mild to severe and some illness has resulted in death. Many people with documented infections have recovered. 

 How to avoid the virus

So, what can each of us do to stay healthy? The same behaviors that will help prevent spread of cold and flu will also help prevent COVID-19:

  • Get your flu shot. It is not too late.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Respect others by minimizing their exposure when possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands. Wash with soap and water frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose mouth. Germs are frequently transmitted when you touch something that has been contaminated and then you touch your face. Face masks available to the public work by reminding people not to touch their face. They generally do not filter out virus particles from the air but only protect from larger droplets.
  • Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food, drink plenty of fluids and get regular exercise. Having good overall health and well-being reduces your risks.

Teladoc Health is also prepared to provide high-quality healthcare by phone, video, or mobile app. If you are concerned about respiratory infections, flu symptoms, and many other illnesses, Teladoc providers can diagnose and provide medical advice and treatment. Visit or open the Premera app on your mobile device to get started.

Teladoc is not available on all Premera health plans. If you are unsure, check with your group administrator.

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