Medical Leaders Discuss Coronavirus Prevention

Stephen Prescott, M.D., president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), says that the coronavirus may be new, but the most effective means of prevention are not.
According to OMRF, Dr. Prescott, a physician and researcher, says, “The best ways to protect yourself are the simple ones you hear every cold and flu season: Wash your hands as often as you can stand, and keep them out of your eyes, nose and mouth.”
He adds, “Alcohol-based sanitizers also destroy the virus. Just make sure they contain at least 60 percent alcohol. The virus spreads through tiny viral droplets, which pass from one person to another through mucus or saliva. Infected people transmit them by coughing, sneezing, talking or breathing.
“If you can smell what someone ate for lunch, you’re probably inhaling what they’re exhaling, including droplets,”And you certainly want to keep ample distance if someone is exhibiting cold or flu symptoms.”
Whenever possible, Prescott recommends maintaining personal space. “But there’s no need to wear a mask, as they haven’t been shown to guard against droplet infection,” he said.
The virus also survives on surfaces for a significant period of time. “That means you can infect yourself by touching that surface and then putting your hand in your nose, mouth or eyes,” said Prescott.
In cases of severe infection, doctors administer supportive care, primarily oxygen therapy. They also use antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
“While there are currently no treatments approved specifically to treat the condition, remdesivir, an investigational antiviral drug not yet approved the FDA, has shown promise in animal models of other serious coronaviruses,” said Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., an immunologist and vice president of clinical affairs at OMRF.
According the Tulsa Health Department (THD), the THD, along with Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely monitoring this outbreak. Local public health experts in Oklahoma are communicating with and educating health care providers and other public health partners about the current situation. Infection control and isolation protocols are already in place to prevent the spread of illness in Oklahoma. THD, in collaboration with state and federal partners, is monitoring all travelers who return to Tulsa County from China. Travelers are contacted by health officials and monitored for 14 days following their departure from China. These individuals are restricted from public settings including work, school and health care settings.
With Spring Break, it is important for travelers to remain aware of travel advisories in countries where the virus is widespread. The CDC advises against all non-essential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Travelers returning from these countries should self-isolate for 14 days and report any signs and symptoms to a health care provider. All cruise travel should be avoided.
Updates on COVID-19, including health tips, fact sheets, case counts, and rumor control are available on the Tulsa Health Department website.