What is Coronavirus? COVID-19

Last updated March 1st, 2020 by Steve Carson M.D.


Coronavirus is a new respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China. The virus is contagious and potentially fatal. Much like influenza, people with pre-existing conditions such as heart and lung disease or immunologic problems are most at risk. At the present time, there is no vaccine, cure or specific treatment.


How is coronavirus spread?

Health officials suspect it is primarily spread person-to-person through coughing and sneezing of infected individuals or hand to eye/nose/or mouth contact. In other words, the same  way influenza and your every day cold is transmitted. There is also evidence that the virus has been spread by animal sources, including individuals with links to seafood or animal markets. Experts do not believe you can get it from water or food.


How many people survive coronavirus?

Currently, coronavirus has a fatality rate of less than 3 percent. As such, the vast majority of those affected so far have survived the disease. For reasons that are yet to be determined, it appears that children are less likely to have significant symptoms.


What are the signs and symptoms of coronavirus?

People can carry the virus in their nasal passage, mouth and hands without having symptoms or they can get sick with the following symptoms:

  • Mild to severe respiratory illness.

  • Fever.

  • Cough.

  • Difficulty breathing.


How infectious is coronavirus?

Virus transmission can happen on a spectrum, and authorities are not sure how contagious the virus is. However, so far it looks like it can be more contagious than influenza.


The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from two to 14 days. During this period, an individual can be infected and spreading the disease although they may not be experiencing the signs and symptoms of the virus.


How can I protect myself or a family member?

Because there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends the following additional steps:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (you can sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY twice. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


What happens if I suspect I or someone I know has coronavirus?

If you exhibit symptoms of coronavirus within two weeks of traveling from China or contact with an individual who recently traveled to China, Italy, Korea, Iran or areas where there has been and outbreak, you should inform our office when booking an appointment. Should there be an outbreak in San Diego (as yet that has not happened) our providers will be examining your child downstairs in the parking lot. If we conclude that you or your child are possibly infected, we will work with our local public health department to determine if you need to be tested for coronavirus.


Please see below the most recent updates regarding COVID-19 in San Diego.


The CDC clinical criteria for Patients with suspected Coronavirus have been developed based on available information about this novel virus, as well as what is known about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These criteria are subject to change as additional information becomes available.


Clinical Features AND Epidemiologic Risk

Fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND Any person, including healthcare workers who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset


Fever and signs/symptoms of a lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) requiring hospitalization AND A history of travel from affected geographic areas (see below) within 14 days of symptom onset


Fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia, ARDS) requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza) AND No source of exposure has been identified


Geographic Areas with Sustained Transmission (Community or Widespread) - Last updated February 28, 2020


These criteria are intended to serve as guidance for evaluation. In consultation with public health departments, patients should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the need for testing.


Affected areas are defined as geographic regions where sustained community transmission has been identified. Relevant affected areas will be defined as a country with at least a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice.

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Children's Healthcare Medical Associates

550 Washington Street, Suite 300

San Diego CA 92103

Phone: (619) 297-5437

Fax: (619) 297-4567 

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Friday: 8:30am to 5:00pm, Saturday: 8:30am to 2:00pm

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