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COVID-19 February Update

February 28, 2020

International Travel
There are some logical ways to make an informed choice about travel outside of the U.S. Use the CDC’s three-level warning system, which is frequently updated and considered reliable.

  • Level 3 is a high-level warning of a serious outbreak. If your destination is Level 3 (currently mainland China and South Korea), the CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel.
  • Level 2 calls for practicing enhanced precautions. You can still go, but a good rule for any travelers nervous about the virus would be to postpone or cancel trips to Level 2 counties (currently Italy, Iran, and Japan).
  • Level 1 is when a place has been put on watch. Right now, only Hong Kong is listed as Level 1 for coronavirus. But other countries are listed with “apparent community spread”: Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The CDC says virus spread isn’t sustained or widespread enough to warrant a travel health notice. However, that may be notice enough for you. (Here’s a link to all CDC travel warnings.)

Domestic Travel
Public health experts say the biggest health risk for domestic travel now is the flu. No part of the U.S. is considered higher risk for coronavirus than any other at the present (Feb 28, 2020), but because the situation is rapidly evolving, checking with local jurisdictions before making travel plans is important.

Disease Transmission
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus is transmitted by droplets, and only lives on surfaces for short periods, perhaps 30 minutes. Other health groups have questioned that, suggesting it can live much longer on surfaces. If you are concerned, wipe down any surface you are going to have contact with on airplanes or other public spaces, such as hotel rooms, restaurants, public doors, public transportation, etc.

There is no vaccine or antibiotics. People can be infected and transmit the virus even though they do not have symptoms which makes it difficult to identify and isolate these individuals.

The CDC urges patients need to stay connected with their local health department to determine whether the virus has been detected in their geographical area and to follow general preparedness guidelines. If cases have been detected in your area, you should stay away from large gatherings (movies, places of worship, restaurants). If you have to work and your job allows for it, ask your employer whether you can work from home and if children can stay home from school or attend remotely. When outside the home, wear a mask, avoid shaking hands, and wash hands regularly.

Paper surgical masks are effective at keeping you from spreading the disease if you are sick, but not effective at blocking you from ingesting the virus. For that, health experts recommend an N95 respirator—a heavy-duty mask.

Plasma Therapies
The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA) has issued a statement (February 17, 2020) stating that the virus, a lipid envelope virus, is not a concern for the safety of plasma protein therapies, including immunoglobulin (Ig), manufactured by PPTA member companies (this covers all U.S. suppliers). 

According to PPTA, “based on strict screening procedures for plasma donors and the established processes of virus inactivation and removal during the manufacturing of plasma-derived products, PPTA concludes that the SARS-CoV-2 is not a concern for the safety margins of plasma protein therapies manufactured by PPTA member companies.”

Because of the broad range of treatment protocols, your best course of action is to talk to your care team with any concerns about your treatment regimen.

You can read the most recent statement from PPTA here: https://www.pptaglobal.org/media-and-information/ppta-statements/1055

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