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Robert R. Cawley, D.O.

Dover, NH 03802

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Coronavirus: Questions & Answers

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital is closely monitoring instances of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Wentworth-Douglass Hospital is working closely with area health agencies, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Partners HealthCare system to navigate this rapidly evolving situation. Please find the latest news and information below.

Coronavirus Q&A

Courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital

What is 2019 novel coronavirus?

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified at the end of 2019 during an investigation into an outbreak of respiratory illness and pneumonia in Wuhan, China.

Have there been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.?

Yes. The first infection with COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The numbers have been small overall, and all thus far have been associated with prior travel from areas in or around Wuhan, China, or close household contact to an infected person from China. Thus, the risk of being exposed to this virus in the United States remains exceedingly low. Updates of the count of cases of infection with COVID-19 in the United States is available on the CDC’s webpage at

How do people catch coronavirus?

The virus is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread when someone touches a contaminated surface, such as a door handle.

Read More from Mass General

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)  Q&A

Q. What are coronaviruses?

A: Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses named for the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. These range from viruses that cause the common cold, to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The latest coronavirus from China is called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This new coronavirus is different from the others and we are learning more about it every day.

Q. How do you get infected with the novel coronavirus?

A: Novel coronavirus is spread by close person-to-person contact from droplets from a cough or sneeze, which can get into your mouth, nose, or lungs. Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet of another person. There aren’t many cases in the U.S., so the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is low.

Q. How do I know if I have novel coronavirus?

A: The CDC is making available a test specifically to determine whether patients have coronavirus. General testing by your healthcare provider will not identify the novel strain. Symptoms of novel coronavirus may appear in as few as 2 days, or in as many as 14 days after exposure. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Call your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms and have recently travelled to China, or if you have these symptoms and have been in close personal contact with someone who has been sick with novel coronavirus. Unless your symptoms are severe, call your healthcare provider first, rather than showing up in the office or Emergency Room. When you call or visit, be sure to note your symptoms, and travel history or exposure to a person diagnosed with the virus.

Q. If I get the novel coronavirus will I die?

A: Not likely, based on what we know now. The people most likely to get seriously ill from this virus are people over 60 and those with pre-existing health conditions. Currently it is estimated that for every 100 cases of COVID-19, between 2 and 4 people would die. This is very different from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), where nearly 10 in 100 sick people died from the illness.

Q. I see people in China wearing masks, should I be doing that?

A: No. Health officials in the U.S. do not recommend the use of masks among the general public because risk of infection is low and limited to close contacts (e.g., husband and wife). People in China, where spread is more likely, have been instructed to wear masks to prevent infecting others and to possibly prevent getting ill from close contact in crowded public spaces where someone with novel coronavirus may cough or sneeze directly on them.

Q. What can I do to prevent getting sick from novel coronavirus?

A: You are at a greater risk of getting seriously ill from the influenza virus than the novel coronavirus. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already.

The following tips will help to prevent novel coronavirus as well as other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow. Throw the tissue in the garbage and make sure to clean your hands afterwards.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Read More from APIC

Helpful Preventative Measures

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC always recommends the following to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Follow these five steps to wash your hands the right way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. You can count to 20 to be sure you have scrubbed for the right amount of time.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.



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Infectious Disease

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