SEARHC taking 'proactive' approach with coronavirus

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - While Alaska has yet to see any confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium is closely monitoring information being provided by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

    SEARHC is also working with the Centers for Disease Control, and state, federal and global health organizations as they work to monitor, contain, and mitigate the impact of the virus.

    “SEARHC’s top priority is the safety of our patients and staff,” said SEARHC Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl.  “We will continue to communicate and coordinate with various healthcare agencies to ensure we have the most up-to-date, comprehensive response plan.  With hundreds of experienced providers and dozens of exceptional facilities across Southeast, SEARHC has the capacity to provide high-quality care should the threat of the virus reach our region.”

    According to a Feb. 27 update posted on the ADHSS website, “the Alaska Section of Epidemiology is closely monitoring the rapidly emerging outbreak of COVID-19 first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.  Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States.  There are currently no confirmed cases in Alaska.”

    COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu – fever, aching, cough, and shortness of breath.  The CDC believes that symptoms of the novel coronavirus may appear within two to 14 days after exposure.  Recent travel to Wuhan, or close contact with someone who recently traveled to an affected geographic area, is an important risk factor.  

    The CDC states that the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person, between individuals in close contact, through an infected cough or sneeze.  It may be possible that a person can acquire COVID-19 by touching an infected surface, or object, and transferring to one’s own mouth, nose, or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

    With no viable vaccines or medications identified, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

    In addition, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions, such as washing your hands thoroughly and often; covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects; and getting a flu shot to eliminate concerns, as COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of influenza.


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