The coronavirus was first discovered in China late last year. It’s been spreading like wildfire since, and people all over the globe are in full panic mode.
As you may have guessed, it’s led to tons of fake news stories all over social media. One crazy conspiracy theory is the coronavirus was caused by eating bat soup. No, seriously. Tap or click here for more nutty theories people are falling for.
It’s not just the scared public taking coronavirus fears too far, either. Some officials have been using a piece of technology that is known for being inaccurate to screen for the virus. When will it end?
Freeze! You might have the coronavirus
There have been more than 71,000 people infected with the coronavirus since it was first detected in December. According to a website tracking its spread, worldometers, the death toll is now over 1,775.
Most of the infections have occurred in China, where the virus originated; however, there have been new cases popping up all over the globe.
In an effort to contain the coronavirus, officials with airports, Chinese cities and some retail locations have instated a mandatory temperature check. This is to try to identify potential carriers of the virus and prevent it from spreading further.
Here’s the problem: Instead of using good old-fashioned thermometers to take people’s temperatures, some officials are using thermometer guns.
This type of thermometer uses infrared sensors to determine a person’s surface temperature without ever actually touching their skin. Dr. James Lawler told The New York Times, “These devices are notoriously not accurate and reliable. Some of it is quite frankly for show.”
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Thermometer guns aren’t always used correctly, which is what prompts unreliable readings. The user either holds the gun too far away or too close to the patient to get an accurate temperature. Inaccurate readings could mean people infected with the coronavirus go undetected and are allowed to get on planes.
That’s not what you want to hear when everyone is already worried about the virus spreading. Any time someone sneezes these days, you probably dive for the exit, hoping to get out of the room before their germs get to you. It’s OK, we’re all doing the same.
How to reduce exposure to, and the transmission of, illness
The U.S. government is taking precautionary steps to stop the coronavirus from spreading. There is now a mandatory quarantine of up to two weeks for U.S. citizens who have traveled to the Hubei province in China within 14 days.
Furthermore, any foreign national who has been to mainland China in the past two weeks is temporarily barred from entering the U.S.
The World Health Organization suggests the following guidelines to stay protected from a range of illnesses:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue — throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your doctor.
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, per good food safety practices.
The WHO offers more tips and coronavirus precautions on its site.
Any time a virus like this is spreading, it’s a good idea to take precautions like those suggested by the WHO. But don’t overreact to a coworker who happens to sneeze every now and then. Just make your usual dive for the exit and wash your hands.