What is the difference in symtomology between this and the flu? I'm in the US, health is privatized...they say stay home if you are sick, but many people go to the doctor to get prescriptions or just to find out what's ailing them. If I feel like I'm coming down with something, I go to the doctor to figure out what it is. Is it really bad to do that now? You can be sick with any number or things--there's only one way to find out and that's going to the doctors office before it gets worse.
...or are we more so talking about when you have really bad symptoms to not go, because then I understand. But at the same time, if you don't know what you have and you let your symptoms get worse without a proper diagnosis...that's asking for it. I guess that's when you'd get the mask if you need to absolutely go to the clinic. I can only imagine how many untold deaths due to the flu and other viruses are not in the 'death toll' count because people didn't want to go to the clinic or couldn't.
I guess I'm really conflicted on how things are being said on the news (not clearly enough). People need to know when and when not to get help. And since viruses are usually contagious before symptoms can occur, and those who are asymptomatic can still spread it, it's impossible to contain such things completely. Airbourne viruses are tricky, but I think this panic is also very very overblown. Now if this was an airbourne disease with the death rate of Ebola or rabies, or the spanish flu....then it's really really time to freak the hell out!
Bottom line is, if you have respiratory symptoms, wear a mask to protect others. Wash your hands a lot, use hand sanitizer a lot. Don't shake hands, apologize for being rude if you feel you must, but mainly be sensible. A common cold can have acute symptoms for around 7-10 days. Chronic symptoms (cough, snot) for 3 weeks. If you have a fever above 100.5 F or 38 C, respiratory symptoms that make you think you possibly have pneumonia, then go be checked by all means. Caveat for thyroid patients, if you're hypothyroid, you could be running a pretty good fever (for you) and never break 100.
Wash your hands, don't cough or sneeze into your elbow if you can avoid it. Cover your mouth and nose. If your doctor or clinic has a call in consult you can do, do that first. Stay home from work or school if you're sick. Call your dr. the first day you're out, most jobs require a dr's excuse after 3 days.
Carry hand sanitizer, and put some of that sanitizer on paper towels when you're out in public and wipe down tables, seats, menus. Anything anyone else who's buggy could have touched. If nothing else, it'll keep you from getting the flu.