By Alessandra Malito, MarketWatch
Older adults are one of the groups most at risk for developing complications from the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, and there a few tips for what they should do.
One of the most pertinent suggestions: stay away from others, especially if they’re not feeling well, the CDC said. “When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.”
The agency also warned older adults to “take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others” and “avoid crowds as much as possible.”
“Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and the risk increases with age,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during the CDC’s media telebriefing of an update on the virus. The highest risk of serious illness or death is in people older than 80 years old.
Others at risk include those who have serious chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, the CDC said .
More than 111,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 4,000 related deaths have been confirmed around the world. Of that figure, more than 62,000 people have recovered , according to the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. There were 600 cases and 22 deaths in the U.S. alone, as of Monday afternoon.
As with the flu, the elderly can suffer serious consequences if they contract the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. People over age 50 are most susceptible to respiratory illnesses and related complications, and the coronavirus is no different, what with its similar symptoms, including a fever and coughing. Washington state has seen the largest number of deaths as a result of the coronavirus, many of which were from an outbreak in a nursing home.
Here are a few of the habits people should develop to protect themselves of the coronavirus, especially if they are at a higher risk:
• Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, including elevator buttons, door handles and handrails. Use napkins or a sleeve to cover your hand and fingers when touching something.
• Do not touch your face, especially after touching items in public.
• Stay away from crowds, especially in “poorly ventilated spaces,” where air circulation is limited and people could be sick.
• Disinfect items in the home, especially if they are frequently used, such as doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets and cellphones.
• Stay home as much as possible if living in a community where the coronavirus has already started spreading. “Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social or commercial networks,” the agency said.
• Keep supplies on hand, especially necessary medications and medical supplies to treat a cold and flu, fever and other symptoms. “Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home,” the CDC said. “Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time,” the agency said.
• Limit nonbusiness travel whenever possible. “We also recommend that people at higher risk avoid nonessential travel, such as long plane trips,” Messonnier said.
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The CDC also urges people to wash their hands as much as possible, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and especially after blowing your nose, coughing or being in a public place. When soap and water is unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. If symptoms appear, including fever, shortness of breath or persistent pain in the chest, seek medical attention, it said.