Background and Scope
COVID-19 is a coronavirus that initially caused a pneumonia outbreak that originated Wuhan, China in December 2019. This outbreak has since spread to different parts of China and worldwide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In the United States it is a public health emergency.
Case statistics (2/12/2020)
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause mostly mild illness. These include strains responsible for the common cold. Others can lead to severe or even fatal disease. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which continues to circulate in some parts of the world, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is no longer in circulation. COVID-19 was formerly referred to as 2019-nCoV, or the 2019 novel coronavirus. The “novel” designation indicates it a strain of the virus that has not been previously identified.
China has restricted travel both in and out of Wuhan and other cities in the Hubei province as well as in other areas of the country. The U.S. State Department has increased its travel advisory to Level 4- Do Not Travel. Most commercial flights have reduced or suspended flights to China.
A traveler has recently returned from Wuhan or an affected location. What should they do?
Follow local procedures set forth by local health authorities.
The United States has placed the following travel restrictions into effect:
- S. citizens returning to the U.S. who had been in the Hubei Province in the previous 14 days must undergo a 14 day quarantine.
- S. citizens returning to the U.S. who had been in the rest of mainland China within the previous 14 days must undergo proactive entry health screening at a select number of ports of entry, and up to 14 days of monitored self-quarantine to ensure they have not contracted the virus, and do not pose a public health risk
- Foreign nationals other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have traveled to China in the last 14 days will be denied entry into the U.S. for this time.
Anyone with a recent travel history to Wuhan or an affected location should monitor their health for at least 14 days. If symptoms develop, seek medical care, and inform healthcare providers prior to the visit about travel history. Travelers should be placed under medical observation if they have had contact with confirmed cases, or direct exposure to a potential source of infection. High-risk contacts should avoid travel for the duration of the incubation period (up to 14 days)
If I am sick in China, can I choose which clinic to go to?
Certain medical facilities in China have been designated “fever clinics” by the Department of Health. These fever clinics manage all patients who suffer from fever and respiratory symptoms. Any patients who present with fever and respiratory symptoms to other facilities are referred to these dedicated fever clinics.
Symptoms and Transmission
Symptoms of this virus are typical of pneumonia and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some have reported upper respiratory symptoms, such as nasal congestion and runny nose, as well as muscle aches and fatigue to precede cough, fever and breathing difficulties. It can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms. It is unclear whether individuals are contagious prior to when symptoms develop.
Individuals more susceptible to severe disease include those with pre-existing medical conditions (e.g. Diabetes and Asthma) and vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, young children and pregnant women. Most cases are mild, although 20-25% of COVID-19 cases in China are classified as severe.
Transmission of COVID-19 is primarily human-to-human. It is spread from an infected person to close contacts (within 6 feet) via respiratory droplets, which are expelled with coughing, sneezing, or talking.
“Ro” is a term that describes how easily a virus is transmitted from one source to another. COVID-19 has a “Ro” value of 1.4 – 2.5. This means that a person with COVID-19 will infect 1.4 – 2.5 susceptible individuals with whom they come into contact. Measles, in comparison, has a Ro of 18.
Can I get 2019-nCoV from my pets?
There is no evidence that currently indicates companion animals, or pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with COVID-19. Regardless, you should always wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects against bacteria that commonly passes between pets and humans, such as E.coli and Salmonella.
Can 2019-nCoV be transmitted through packages shipped from China?
Based on experience with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 it is not believed to live on contaminated surfaces for more than a few hours. There are no new material handling requirements for shipments out of China. COVID-19 is spreading primarily to people who are in close unprotected direct contact with an infected person (within 6 feet).
Prevention and Treatment
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. There is no directed antiviral therapy against this disease, and antibiotics are only effective against diseases caused by bacteria- not viral diseases, like COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 receive supportive care, which is aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing complications during recovery. This can range from ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever to mechanical ventilation for severe respiratory difficulty (severe cases only).
You can reduce your risk of COVID-19 by following general precautions for hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and good food safety practices:
- Clean hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Carry hand sanitizer for use when soap and water are not readily available.
- Avoid touching your face, mouth or eyes.
- If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone obviously sick (e.g. with fever or cough).
- If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away. Share previous travel history with your health care provider.
- Do not travel if you are sick. Some locations have begun screening travelers, which may cause you to undergo quarantine and testing.
- Thoroughly cook all food, including eggs.
- Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to prevent cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices
- When visiting live markets, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals, surfaces in contact with animals.
Should I wear a face mask?
Everyone in Wuhan is required to wear a mask in public places. You must comply with this directive in Wuhan. Outside of Wuhan, you may wish to consider wearing a face mask or respirator when in public places. The CDC advises wearing a face mask if sick (coughing, fever, sneezing).
Surgical face masks may stop people from touching their mouth and will catch some of the droplets that are coughed and sneezed out. These masks do not prevent you from breathing in COVID-19, however. They also do not prevent the virus from entering through your eyes.
Fitted respirators, which include ‘P2’ or ‘N95’ masks, are effective in preventing infection. These require training and special fitting, and are not intended for use in a general setting. They are recommended only in the case of close contact with infected individuals (e.g. for healthcare workers).
Please note – this information is valid as of 2/12/202. Further updates will be provided as more information becomes available.