The CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area health officials announced five new coronavirus cases including three new cases in Santa Clara County and two health workers who were likely infected while exposed to a patient in Solano County.  According to John Hopkins University, the number of those affected world-wide with the virus is estimated at 89,000 and the death-toll is around 3,000.  More than 2,800 of those fatalities are located in China, where the virus originated.  The first American death occurred on Saturday in Washington State and the second death was reported there on Sunday.

The CDC states that the symptoms of the virus, which may appear 12-14 days after exposure, are fever, cough and shortness of breath.  It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and saliva or mucus is directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection.

From a holistic perspective, one of the best ways to avoid getting the Coronavirus would be to keep the immune system strong.  With a hardy immune system, all viruses are blocked and you can keep well and healthy.  I would recommend keeping the immune system strong with preventative measures by eating a nutritious diet, getting regular acupuncture and taking immune-boosting herbs.

A professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, who was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses in the 1970s recommends the following ways to avoid getting infected with the coronavirus in public areas:

1) Limit or don’t shake hands. Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump or simple “hello.”

2) Use your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc. and lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.

3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door.

4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.

5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.

6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances and in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.

7) Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. If you don’t have a tissue hand, then use your elbow.  Wash the clothing on your elbow as it can contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more.

Additional tips and suggestions from other health practitioners include:

1) Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects with soap and water, bleach and water or an EPA-approved disinfectant. Often-touched surfaces include doorknobs, railings, computer keyboards, phones, toys and desks.

2) Stay home when you are sick. If you do have a standard, non-coronavirus flu, then keep your immune system strong with rest.

3) Most importantly, seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough and if your illness is worsening, such as having difficulty with breathing.