If there is one silver-lining to the cloud that is the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, it is that more people are washing their hands.
Premise Data collected data about COVID-19, formerly known as the Coronavirus, from over 50,000 people around the world and found the number one precaution people are taking is to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer more frequently. The data was collected from people in 39 countries including Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and the Philippines.
Most American respondents (47.3%) are washing hands more frequently, whereas a smaller percentage (17.7%) is opting to wear facemasks. In contrast, the most common precaution among the Taiwanese (79.9%) is wearing facemasks, while a smaller percentage (67.2%) is washing hands more frequently; in the Philippines, 78.1% of respondents are washing hands more frequently and 70% are wearing facemasks.
The more frequent hand-washing could also help lessen the impacts of the current flu season, which has seen a surge since the start of the year, particularly among children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently, there are six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California. Of those, five people came down with the virus after traveling to the Wuhan province in China that is the epicenter of the disease. The sixth was the spouse of one of the five.
The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold, but others cause more serious illnesses such as SARS. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that symptoms can appear as quick as two days and up to 14 days after exposure.
The viruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats and it’s rare that animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as the case with this current coronavirus.
First detected in December, the virus is believed to have originated in a type of wild animal sold at a Wuhan market to be consumed as food.
COVID-19 has spread to more than 24 countries since December. The global total of cases has surpassed 64,000 and there have been 1,383 deaths.
The CDC said person-to-person spread occurs mainly via respiratory droplets from when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get the novel coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
The California Department of Public Health has been prepared and is continuing with the following actions:
- Providing information about the outbreak and how to report suspect cases to local health departments and health care providers in California.
- Coordinating with federal authorities who plan to quarantine passengers returning to the U.S. from Hubei Province, China, through SFO and LAX.
- Assuring that health care providers know how to safely manage persons with possible novel coronavirus 2019 infection.
- Supporting hospitals and local public health laboratories for collection and shipment of specimens for testing at CDC for novel coronavirus 2019.
- Activating the Department of Public Health's Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts across the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.