In the face of a health concern such as the coronavirus, people should not confuse taking precautions with panic.

For example, refusing to buy a brand of beer because it has the same name as the virus while filling a shopping cart with toilet paper is more about misinformed panic than well-informed precaution.

Keeping track where cases of the virus have been confirmed and regularly washing one’s hands can keep a person informed while taking smart precautions.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office has begun regular updates on the coronavirus spread in Georgia. The governor’s office and state health officials have released guidelines in the hopes of curtailing the spread of the virus.

State health officials urge Georgians to follow basic prevention measures:

— Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

— If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

— Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

— Stay home when sick.

— Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

— Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are good recommendations any time, especially during flu season. In the era of the coronavirus, now is a good time to make these practices regular habits as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Anyone who has recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develops fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of travel, or anyone who has had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call health-care providers or local health department right away, state officials said.

“Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms,” they added.

Panic can spread faster than disease if left unchecked.

Take precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus and remain calm to avoid the spread of hysteria.

For information about COVID-19, visit dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.

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