Answering your questions: symptoms, testing, contagiousness and more

Answers from medical expert Dr. Sanjay Sethi
Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 18:24:25-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — "People shouldn't panic. This is not the plague," said Dr. Sanjay Sethi. Dr. Sethi is a professor and Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine at University at Buffalo. He is on the front lines of treating the coronavirus.

Below are Dr. Sethi's answers to questions 7 Eyewitness News asked him about the coronavirus:

Q: If you don't have underlying health conditions, when do you make the decision that you need to be tested for COVID 19?
A:"If you have a bit of a fever or a cold, I would not rush out and try to find out if I have COVID. A. We don't have the tests. B. If you're young, if you're otherwise healthy, if you're doing okay with it, it's better to stay home and ride it tout at this time," said Dr. Sethi. In that situation, he recommends quarantining for 14 days, but if you begin to get short of breath or develop chest pain, that's when you should consider getting tested.

Q: How are medical professionals protecting themselves when treating COVID 19 patients?
A: "You're fully gowned with gloves. The idea is that you should not be carrying it out, not just to infect yourself but also spread it beyond that." He said medical professionals also monitor their health, wash their hands and avoid touching their faces.

Q: Is a person who has COVID 19 contagious before they even have symptoms? If they are contagious before showing symptoms, how is COVID 19 spread to another person?
- Amy from Angola
A: "There is a possibility, four or five days before they develop symptoms, they could have been infectious," said Dr. Sethi. He mentioned those who have the coronavirus can also be asymptomatic all together. "If you're not having symptoms, you're carrying it in your nose and carrying it in your throat. The mere act of breathing generates some aerosols," Dr. Sethi said. He explained that's why it's important to not touch your face. You can unknowingly be spreading the virus or picking it up yourself. He also mentioned this is why it is important to quarantine after possibly coming into contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus.

Q: Does having an up-to-date pneumonia vaccine help in the case of COVID 19?
- Tana from Orchard Park
A: The simple answer is yes. "The virus itself can cause pneumonia," Dr. Sethi said, "The second thing that can happen is you can develop a secondary bacterial pneumonia and the chances of getting that would be reduced." Dr. Sethi said it's also important to have your flu shot. If you have the flu shot, it helps prevent you from getting influenza; therefore, you're less likely to get sick and think you have COVID 19.

Q: Does smoking have an effect on your body's ability to fight the virus?
A: "If you are smoking and vaping, you are increasing the risk," Dr. Sethi said, "There's more chances of you developing trouble." Dr. Sethi said this is true when it comes to any virus. A smoker's lungs are already inflamed and irritated, which worsens the illness.

7 Eyewitness News will continue to try to answer your COVID 19 questions.