Experts share what you need to know about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak
Today. We're going to talk all things. Wuhan Corona virus with our very own. Dr Han Li who senior director of medical affairs at our sister site health line. Dr Lee thank you so much for joining us today. A lot of things have been happening day by day. We're recording this episode assode on Monday February third higher level. What's going on with the corona virus so at the high level? The Corona virus seems to still be spreading. We're still L. hearing of increased cases of New Infections and additional deaths. Right now I think we're at around three hundred and sixty one deaths. The vast majority of deaths are occurring in China and the vast majority of the cases are occurring in China. But I think over the weekend the news list that the first death outside of China has occurred and it was in a forty four year old Filipino. Man after he traveled to John. Yeah I I heard that news and I was Kinda on a shock because it was my understanding that younger healthy people have nothing to worry about and we clearly don't know the medical history of this forty four year old but Should people be really concerned turned by the at this point. You're exactly right. We don't know what this man's medical history as it is surprising cause forty four year old is not considered an older person and we had up until this point and hearing that only the people who are older or who have compromised immune system or any kind of pre existing medical medical condition or respiratory condition. Were really at risk of increased mortality. So definitely we are concerned about that but at this point we don't know enough and it the worst thing we could do is to overly panicked when not enough information is known and to jump to any false conclusions. I think I think the main thing to really keep in mind as we still need to find out a lot more information. Can you describe a little bit. What are some of the symptoms that they start with and then progress into and actually is a like the flu? In fact many of the cases that have been documented Came with folks who said that they had very very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all The ones that we're hearing about the ones that make the news are the ones that are the most of here Were there presenting with respiratory distress. So you have the flu. But on top of that you're getting severe costs. High Fever and difficulty breathing to the point where people are having difficulty with shortness of breath requiring a respiratory support either with a ventilator or intimidation and so those are the ones that are really severe that require hospitalization but in a lot of the cases including the ones wants that we've seen in the US people who've been documented with the novel Krono virus are well enough to actually stay at home as long as they remain quarantined. Nineteen at home and that they're not going around potentially transmitting it to other people. What would you say to someone who said okay the world freaking out about this but the regular flu is way more deadly? Why do we care about this so much? Well it definitely is the case that you know. We're scared about this because we have a situation and we've been hearing about it a lot more in the last a couple of decades that there are these new flus or viruses and bacteria that are making the jump between animals to humans and it's frightening to rest because there's a sense of vulnerability that we don't know when it's going to happen how it's going to happen or how quickly the spread can happen before we can contain it but in actuality you're exactly right. The percentage of people who get the normal seasonal influenza is much higher and the mortality rates for those are still quite high But that's where medical information and accurate medical education is really pivotal. We had health line media. Spend a lot the time really trying to do the best. We can to make sure that we are all of our readers with the best information so that they really can't understand whether true risks are and not beats you easily led into this sense of panic because of misinformation is a big thing especially in this day of social media. I know I got multiple notable people sending me the picture of the Grotesque Bat in a bowl Claiming that the corona virus came from people eating burnt bats. What's in bowls in China? Is there any sense of truth to that. And did it definitely come from this animal market as many people are talking about yes and now so yes there is Evidence at this point that suggests that the krona virus the cause of this current spread was from the wet market. But it wasn't necessarily from eating the food per se. A lot of it is actually from close contacts. Close contact is defined as a six foot proximity to other an infected animal or an infected person. I think the scare has now come because we're originally came from an animal in close proximity with an animal now people who are in close contact contact with others who have had virus or who have the illness of the krono virus can potentially get sick as well. So that's the real concern is that we've you. were seeing the human to human transmission. We've seen the cases in California in Chicago where a recent traveler from Wuhan Came Back and unwittingly transmitted it to family member because of the close contact and this is scary because unlike Ebola which required you know bodily fluid with pretty intense contact. This seems to be passing person to person pretty easily is that why officials are really concerned. Yes so there are certain ways as you can catch an illness. Sometimes it's really requires very very close contact intimate contact but when it comes to airborne illnesses like the corona virus or the influenza influenza it can travel and respiratory droplets and was that anyone can transmit if they're infected with the virus via talking hocking coughing or sneezing in close proximity to other people which is why we always reinforce in all of our education and our content on headline media that the best thing is to practice safe precautions. If you feel sick stay at home. Don't go to work. Don't travel through mass transit if you're going to cough sneeze he's or be close to people be very mindful and respectful. Don't cost out Logan. Cover your mouth with your elbow not your hand or your shoulder cover your mouth with tissue of possible and throw that away immediately. Don't let it just sit around infecting surfaces which other people can touch and then transmit to themselves so these as a precaution that we always try to reinforce with folks to help decrease any potential cause of transmission from person to person and let's talk about airplanes so listeners of this podcasts are many of them are probably on a plane. Right now listening to this. What do you recommend in terms of wiping down your seat area? Does it make sense. I know a lot of people. People are wearing. The medical masks that people are saying are pointless for receiving Viruses in the air How do we protect ourselves on airplanes and in airports airports it makes a Lotta sense to feel particularly vulnerable when you travel because you're supposed to a lot of travelers from lots of different areas and you're in an enclosed environment with airplanes? It is particularly good to try to clean your area as much as possible as wise to travel with antibacterial wipes and antibacterial actuarial Gel. So that you can hear in your area making sure that the antibacterial Gel has at least sixty percent alcohol rate of possible and make sure show that you clean off your tray table and avoid putting things in the back seat pocket because that's really just a nice medium for bacteria one of the things things that I find very interesting. Is that when you're on a plane. There's this belief that you're really at risk and there's nothing you can do about getting sick actually you can can really help yourself by just making sure that your seat as well ventilated by using the the air that that's right above your seat a lot of folks recommend that if you turn on the air vent position it so that it forms a force field effectively front of your head that you can actually blow a lot of the Viruses and bacteria way is not gonNA be one hundred proof but it'll help in terms of making sure that your area as well ventilated. Oh so it does actually work. I think you you know everything that you can do to help yourself protect yourself. It's a good idea. You know we always say when when we have situations like this to stay in a well ventilated area. You can't always do that when you're traveling because you're on a plane that's you know you're going to circulated exactly but what you can do is just to make sure that you've got some well ventilated while circulated air around you if possible you can test yourself by putting your hands on your lap and making sure that the air is hitting you on the top of your hand. That's when you know that the air is really blowing right in front of your face interesting. I did not realize that onto the topic of facemask most of the surgical face masks that the people are wearing. I've heard do little to protect inborn viruses. It's all about not infecting others. Is that true or as long as you. You know squeezed squeezed around your nose. Do these mass do anything. Well first and foremost the CDC does not currently recommend traveling with face masks. Because at right at this point. It's not known known whether the face masks will help at all or which types of face masks will help. Not all face masks are created equally a lot of the commercially available ones. Don't have the filtration that will help protect you from the viruses. But you're right. It's also the way we use the facemask. I often see particularly when I'm traveling in the subway systems. When people where masks they were all too loosely and they think they've got it off on well and they're protecting themselves? There's a lot of hollow space and open ventilation on the sides and so it really is effectively doing nothing. The other mistake that people make is they were the same one all the time for long periods of time so whatever contamination commission is on the mass they just retain with them and they don't throw it away. These risks mass are supposed to be single. Use face masks so you're not supposed to carry read them forever. But a lot of folks do that and they touch them and they touch other surfaces and they put them back on their face thereby rendering the whole mask kind of pointless at this point the best thing is related to perform good hand washing. Wash your hands at least twenty seconds with soap and water and try to avoid touching your face particularly alertly eyes nose and mouth after you've touched other surfaces when you're in public areas like on a plane or on the subway or other mass transit.