How to define coronavirus symptoms during holiday
Symptoms of Covid-19. Photo: CDC.

Though top public health experts have urged Americans to avoid traveling this holiday season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some may still be choosing to make plans for Christmas, Fox News reported.

If you plan to gather with those who live outside your household this holiday season, it’s good to be aware of how COVID-19 may present itself.

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that symptoms of the novel virus may range from mild to severe, noting that older adults "and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness."

Those infected can show a wide range of symptoms of the virus, with most symptoms appearing two to 14 days following exposure to the virus.

The most common symptoms include the following:

Fever or chills

Cough

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Fatigue

Muscle or body aches

Headache

New loss of taste or smell

Sore throat

Congestion or runny nose

Nausea or vomiting

Diarrhea

For anyone who suspects they may have been exposed to the virus, or are showing any of the above symptoms, a diagnostic test can confirm if there is an active infection or not.

"The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus," the CDC says.

Protective measures to save yourself and the surroundings

How to define coronavirus symptoms during holiday

Protect yourself and others around you by knowing the facts and taking appropriate precautions. Follow advice provided by your local health authority.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.

Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Stay home if you feel unwell.

If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.

Calling in advance allows your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This protects you, and prevents the spread of viruses and other infections.

Masks

Masks can help prevent the spread of the virus from the person wearing the mask to others. Masks alone do not protect against COVID-19, and should be combined with physical distancing and hand hygiene. Follow the advice provided by your local health authority.

What does the CDC's new definition of "close contacts" means?

The CDC has expanded how it defines close contacts of someone with COVID-19. Until this point, the CDC had defined a close contact as someone who spent 15 or more consecutive minutes within six feet of someone with COVID-19. According to the new definition, a close contact is someone who spends 15 minutes or more within six feet of a person with COVID-19 over a period of 24 hours.

Close contacts are at increased risk of infection. When a person tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracers may identify their close contacts and urge them to quarantine to prevent further spread. Based on the new definition, more people will now be considered close contacts.

How to define coronavirus symptoms during holiday

Many factors can affect the chances that infection will spread from one person to another. These factors include whether or one or both people are wearing masks, whether the infected person is coughing or showing other symptoms, and whether the encounter occurred indoors or outdoors. Though the "15 minutes within six feet rule" is a helpful guideline, it's always best to minimize close interactions with people who are not members of your household.

The CDC's new definition was influenced by a case described in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in which a correctional officer in Vermont is believed to have been infected after being within six feet for 17 non-consecutive minutes of six asymptomatic individuals, all of whom later tested positive for COVID-19.

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:

1. Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.

2. You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started, according to NHS.uk.

What is social distancing and why is it important?

The COVID-19 virus primarily spreads when one person breathes in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In addition, any infected person, with or without symptoms, could spread the virus by touching a surface. The coronavirus could remain on that surface and someone else could touch it and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. That's why it's so important to try to avoid touching public surfaces or at least try to wipe them with a disinfectant.

Social distancing refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough distance (6 feet or more) between yourself and another person to avoid getting infected or infecting someone else. School closures, directives to work from home, library closings, and cancelling meetings and larger events help enforce social distancing at a community level.

Slowing down the rate and number of new coronavirus infections is critical to reduce the risk that large numbers of critically ill patients cannot receive life-saving care. Highly realistic projections show that unless we begin extreme social distancing now — every day matters — our hospitals and other healthcare facilities will not be able to handle the likely influx of patients.

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