If you are concerned about your exposure to the virus it's important to understand the difference between a self-quarantine and self-isolation. A quarantine separates people who may have been exposed to see if they show symptoms of having contracted the virus. It involves staying home and avoiding contact with others until the time period between exposure and showing symptoms ends, which according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control is 14 days.
Self-quarantine is for the large numbers of healthy people who may fall sick following possible exposure. While self-monitoring and isolation is for people who are ill with the coronavirus and are a danger to others, according to the CDC. These people should stay home until they are free of symptoms and test negative for the virus. Americans in certain states are being asked to stay home if they have returned from certain parts of China or Iran. Or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms directly related to the virus and may have potentially been exposed.
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According to the CDC, symptoms of the coronavirus include measured fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If you have recently traveled or been in close contact with someone who has traveled internationally and you are experiencing these symptoms a “self-observation” period may be in order.
Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 ft. of a coronavirus case for a prolonged period of time or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a coronavirus case such as being coughed on. Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting or sharing a health care waiting area or room with someone who has the coronavirus.
“If they feel feverish or develop cough or difficulty breathing during the self-observation period, they should take their temperature, self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed,” writes the CDC.
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If you are concerned about your exposure to coronavirus, the CDC has outlined risk levels and recommended precautions. In general, if you live in a community where the coronavirus has been reported and you observe the related symptoms you should remain at home and alert medical authorities immediately and carefully monitor your symptoms.