Benyamin Cohen (left) interviewed Dr. Ran Nir-Paz (right), an infectious disease physician, about what we need to know about the coronavirus. Benyamin Cohen (left) interviewed Dr. Ran Nir-Paz (right), an infectious disease physician, about what we need to know about the coronavirus. Benyamin Cohen (left) interviewed Dr. Ran Nir-Paz (right), an infectious disease physician, about what we need to know about the coronavirus. (Photo: Courtesy Hadassah Medical Organization)

Podcast: Doctor in quarantine answers questions about the coronavirus

We had 30 minutes to ask an infectious disease expert everything we wanted to know about the fast-spreading virus.

For the past two weeks, Dr. Ran Nir-Paz has been in quarantine inside a bedroom in his Jerusalem home. He jokes that he's subsisting on a diet of pizza and pancakes – flat food items that his family can slip under the door for him to eat. He's passing the time the best way he can. "You've got a computer, you've got your life, you've got the radio, you've got TV. So, there's plenty of things to do," he said. "Work can be done. The phone is working. So life is almost as normal except that the human-to-human encounters are really limited."

The story of how Dr. Nir-Paz, a highly respected infectious disease expert at Israel's Hadassah Hospital, ended up in quarantine is a humanitarian one. Last month, hundreds of people off the coast of Japan ­aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship – including four Israelis – contracted the coronavirus known as COVID-19. The Israeli government needed someone to help, so they called the 54-year-old doctor.

Dr. Nir-Paz jumped at the opportunity. He flew to Japan and spent several days checking on the Israeli patients. Since he had potentially been exposed to the virus, upon his return to Israel he quarantined himself inside his home. So what’s it like living in quarantine? Well, there’s only one way to find out. We called up Dr. Nir-Paz.

Through a partnership with Hadassah Hospital, we recorded that conversation for a very special episode of the "Hadassah On Call” podcast.

We had 30 minutes to ask Dr. Nir-Paz everything we wanted to know about the coronavirus: What practical things can we do in our everyday routine to help us stay safe? Is it OK to travel domestically? Does wearing a mask help? Plus, how does this epidemic compare to outbreaks of the past – like SARS and swine flu? “As an infectious disease physician, you’re being taught that you will see something once a decade which is big,” he told us. “So, obviously, this is the one-in-a-decade thing. The question is if this is the once in a decade or once in a century.”

Listen to the entire conversation by clicking on the "Play" button on the podcast above. To stay up to date on the latest developments concerning the coronavirus, please visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has a special section devoted to the outbreak.

We ended our chat by asking the doctor what he's looking forward to the most about leaving quarantine. "My little kid asked me today to go for a walk with him," Dr. Nir-Paz said. "So that's probably the first thing I'll do."

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Podcast: Doctor in quarantine answers questions about the coronavirus
We had 30 minutes to ask Hadassah Hospital's Dr. Ran Nir-Paz, an infectious disease expert, everything we wanted to know about the fast-spreading virus.