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Frequently asked questions about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

See how SMIL is responding to the outbreak and what you should do if feeling sick.

Daniel Maki, MD physician board member of SMIL Southwest Medical Imaging says SMIL remains on alert against the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is taking several precautions at our facilities to ensure the safety of all patients and staff.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the virus and SMILs approach to containing it.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Scientists have identified seven different types of the virus, from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). This novel coronavirus is called COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan City, China.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that primarily spreads from coming in contact with the respiratory droplets — coughing, sneezing, saliva or nasal discharge — from an infected person. COVID-19 has been linked to large seafood and live animal markets, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of reports suggest limited person-to-person spread is occurring.

Current evidence shows all usual infection control practices are effective in limiting transmission.

To minimize spreading the virus, it is critical to practice good hygiene, washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with hot water and soap for 20 seconds – about the same amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. If using hand sanitizer, make sure it's alcohol based. Also, make sure to cough or sneeze into your flexed elbow, avoid handshakes, avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes and immediately discard tissues after use.

If I have flu-like symptoms, what should I do?

If you develop symptoms like fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Calling in advance will protect you and help prevent the spread of any illness.

Perspective is key. It is important to remember that the risk to the average American remains low, and the vast majority of cases are mild and do not require hospitalization.

You are at far greater risk of contracting the flu than COVID-19 at the current time. The best way to avoid getting sick is to vigilantly wash your hands, and avoid close contact with sick people and congested areas.

What is SMIL doing to help minimize the spread of COVID-19?

SMIL has already been taking proactive steps to address this rapidly developing situation to protect our staff and the communities we serve.

When you visit SMIL you may see our team members wearing personal protective equipment including respiratory protection, and gloves. We remain vigilant in performing hand hygiene when removing personal protective equipment and routinely practicing hand hygiene, routinely cleaning equipment and adhering to environmental cleaning and disinfection each day.

SMIL is following standards that meet and go beyond the CDC's recommendations. The COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation and SMIL is continuously monitoring and adhering to changing recommendations from regulatory agencies.

Any limitations on coming to SMIL?

There are no current limitations on your appointment at SMIL. That may change if the prevalence of flu or novel coronavirus changes. However, anyone feeling ill should be discouraged from visiting. The right place for a patient with possible exposure to Coronavirus is a hospital setting as they are fully equipped to handle the situation and provide isolation/quarantine if needed.

Other helpful information on COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website.

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