With the news about the spread of novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV it is important for Dental Staff who are prone to be exposed to aerosols from patients having symptoms of novel Coronavirus. Center for Disease control and prevention is reminding clinicians to use standard precautions without fail and isolate patients who show signs and symptoms of the virus. The incubation period of novel Coronavirus is anywhere between 2-14 days according to the CDC, it has not been mentioned for how long the infected patients carry the virus which is said to be several weeks.

How is coronavirus spread

Image credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Alissa Eckert, MS, and Dan Higgins, MAM.

It is advised to postpone any Dental non emergency or elective Dental procedures in patients with symptoms similar to novel coronavirus. Any person who has a histroy of travelling to China in the recent months should have their appoints postponed during the incubation period of the Virus.

How is novel Coronavirus Spread or Transimtted?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses and are commonly seen in many species of animals – cattle, cats, bats and camels. Animal coronavirus is not known to be spread to people but in case of novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV has been transmitted to people and spread between people similar to SARS and MERS.

Person to Person spread happens in close contacts (6 feet) through – respiratory droplets by Coughing, sneezing. The droplets travel through air and land in the nose of mouth of dental staff or any surface nearby and can be inhaled into the lungs leading to spread of the disease. It is not clear if touching any surface having infected droplets and later touching your mouth or nose can lead to the spread of the disease.

Which mouth mask or face mask can prevent spread of Coronavirus?

A regular Surgical or medical mask will not prevent the spread of Coronavirus but a specialized mask known as “N95 Respirator” will help in preventing the disease from spreading to the person wearing it.

Novel coronavirus facemask

Image credit: Shutterstock

The N95 Respirator is thicker and seals the mouth and nose properly from any infectious aerosols from spreading to the person. It is not advised for common people to wear this mask at the moment but medical professionals who can come in direct contact are recommended to wear one. One cannot work for prolonged duration while wearing a N95 Respirator.

Coronaviruses is fairly common in many animals in humans which is a large family of Viruses, but the particular strain 2019-nCoV is deadly as it is seen to progress rapidly and spreads fast. Health care professionals should be on the lookout for patients who have recently traveled to China and show symptoms such as Fever, cough, shortness of breath, decreased respiratory rate etc. If any patient is found with related symptoms the Dental staff should be instructed to place a face mask on the patient and isolate him/her and report such cases to local and state public health authorities.