Best practices to take action against COVID-19

Medical experts Dr. Jen Ashton and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia join ABC News Prime to discuss preventative actions you can take to protect yourself from the deadly virus.
7:53 | 03/03/20

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Transcript for Best practices to take action against COVID-19
And now I'm joined by two doctors to advise us on want to do to keep from getting sick as we are seeing the corona virus continue to spread around the United States and the world doctor Jennifer Ashton. Is ABC news's chief medical correspondent and doctor not heed the Dahlia is an infectious disease physician at Boston university school of medicine. Doctor any heed the Dahlia want to start with you first off thank you for joining us tonight. Should people be doing right now to keep themselves and their families held in and it seems obvious to wash your hands and sanitize services but. What do you really want people to now. Cash I think the most important piece of news for me this week was doctor Toni found keep emanates saying earlier that we are going to see more cases because they've. Increased our ability to task for them most states have the ability you're on their way getting that we'll also broadened believe that we test for this disease which means. Even if there where the cases before in a detect them now. And so it's not so much that they occurred over the last week but to expect that we'll see this. I think it's important to stress that because they think when you when you hear about new cases people are getting into this phase of panic. Which I think is not as helpful because we know what does diseases and we know how it's transmitted and in fact as you mentioned from the type of interventions that he just said. The weight elite protect from this disease is very similar to how he protector sounds from other infectious diseases and our community like. Nora hires or or influenza that it's insuring. Not only that we lost her hands that we do it and Garland and mindful manner. Not only that we decontaminate but we look for places you know where there might be a lot of you know frequency of people touching and ensuring that we -- this does in fact that. Keeping our distance from people who might be sick but also staying home we ourselves are safe M and that's a good place to start. I think in terms and interventions. What would doctor Jan who should get tested worried if the testing has from a I'm just returned from an infected country some having flu like symptoms what I there. Well just last week we saw a largely in response to that first community case person to person spread in the community in Washington Steve. The CDC revised their testing guidelines. Now really includes three categories of people two of those categories and this is really important Lindsay. Applied to hospitalized. Patients so while we're seeing a lot of concern in the community. Certainly understandably because a lot of people have been traveling recently in the last couple of weeks and months. And if they develop a symptom that much more likely could be something like influenza or RSV that we see commonly. Rate now the testing criteria in just revised by the CDC. Have three groups one of them is a critically ill patients of this to be someone in an icu setting. With severe respiratory disease and no other explanation so that means every other infectious ideology your source has been ruled out. Doctors are completely mystified that person is a candidate for testing. The other category is a patient who has. Recently traveled to one of the five affected countries and right now it's just five countries in the last two weeks and has. Fever and divorce symptoms of lower respiratory disease so costs pneumonia like symptoms. Hospitalized. And then the third category is someone who has known contact. With someone who's had corona virus in the last two weeks and has either a fever. Or signs or symptoms of pneumonia so things like a cost if you are not in that category meaning if your home. You just develop a sore throat even if you've just gotten off a plane from Italy you are not meeting criteria for CDC testing and that's important for people to now. And not heated we've seen obviously more cases in the US this week but you say that's because more people are getting tested so is actually a good sign that we're improving our diagnosis methods. Yes I think it is that I think it's gonna serve both in terms of detecting any new cases that really giving us a better sense how. How many cases in other small number of cases that's great that we know where to invest our energy to one other thing that wanted to say is that. And you know as the number increases leathers smaller large. I think that people will want more information as you've already seen there's there's this thirst for more information and and I cannot stress enough the importance is going to the dependable sources like in the DC let's side of the World Health Organization web site. But what I've really seen that it's created that many states have actually now instituted hotlines are people can call particularly those that Epstein cases. Which I think will allay a lot of skiers and and guide people to the right resource this. When this first was an epidemic and problematic in China we saw immediately present from stops. Flights coming in and out people started getting tested but it milling around him more than a thousand cases. You can still travel and now it doesn't sound like everybody's getting tested and then you have the issue of Washington State at what point do you stop flights coming in out of Seattle what. So the travel confusion has been logistically challenging and we live in a global society no question. It the feel when you look at the four steps of controlling an infectious disease outbreak the first is identify your pathogens so. This is potentially what we call a high impact respiratory passage in 'cause it's highly transmissible but looks to be. Low risk of death which is good news and we expect that number to even go down further as we get a better grasp on how many people are truly infected. Then the next step Lindsay in controlling an outbreak is to isolated. That's the containment phase so if you have flights coming from Nolan other countries. Affected areas hot spots if you will South Korea Italy. Bringing hundreds and thousands of people into the United States every day for the last one to two months. It's to be expected that there are people who may have no symptoms at all or very very mild symptoms so mild in fact that they might not even seek medical attention. Circulating around every part of this country and that's. Not meant to scare people that's the reality and I actually think from a medical standpoint it should be reassuring because that means. You know maybe it's thirty been so common in prevalent in our society for the last one to two months' and more people have. Not gotten very sad and yet one more question from you before we go personal question that I'm holding other parents may have as well my son has a little bit of a horse throws a recent. Glad corona virus might an indict how to parents talk to their children about. I think the first thing is on an age appropriate basis find out what they know because that will be different depending on their age and children especially grade school children. Their primary interest is being reassured asked to their safety so. You know to say as a mom even though my kids are in college now you know I've spoken to them about this and say this is a virus and you know what steps are being taken in our country and our local communities what steps can be taken of you by your pediatrician if you get sick. And I think that's sideways and brings up a really important aspect of this story Lindsay which is the psychological or emotional element here. This can be a stressful and anxiety producing situation for people when they're bombarded by UI coverage and press conferences and headlines. And I think that what's really important. When when politicians or. You know and elected officials have to communicate sensitive medical information like this that they might not be that familiar with are used to doing. Sometimes when you say to someone don't panic. That can be interpreted as being dismissive of or even insulting and actually causing them to panic more even though that's not the intention so I think. Both children and the public needs to hear the following. I know this is stressful. These are the steps that your government public health officials and the government in general are taking and he is are the steps that you can take. To lower your risk and protect yourself and that kids someone. Actionable but also you know understanding an empathetic steps that they can take to deal with this because you know in in medicine we deal with us a lot but the lay public does not all right our thanks to both of you. Both doctors we thank you for joining us tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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