What is novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice for naming of new human infectious diseases.
How does the virus spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. As you may be aware, there have been at least 6 people diagnosed with the virus in Western Pennsylvania as of 3/15/20.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
How long someone is actively sick can vary, so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.
Current CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:
The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.
Can someone who has been quarantined spread the virus?
Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.
Can virus be spread through food?
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day, wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.
Will warm weather stop the outbreak?
It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
Who is at risk?
Risk depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people; the severity of resulting illness; and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medications that can treat the illness) and the relative success of these. In the absence of vaccine or treatment medications, nonpharmaceutical interventions become the most important response strategy. These are community interventions that can reduce the impact of disease.
The risk from COVID-19 to Americans can be broken down into risk of exposure versus risk of serious illness and death.
Risk of exposure:
The immediate risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, that risk will increase. Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are being reported in a growing number of states.
People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk dependent on the location.
Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled.
Risk of Severe Illness:
Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.
What do you do if you become sick, or become at greater risk due to changing health or exposure to someone with high risk of illness?
If you become ill or feel you meet some of the criteria putting you at high risk, please notify your manager right away so that we can determine what needs to be done to protect you, our other employees and patients.
Recommendations from the CDC
What May Happen
More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. CDC expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus.
Widespread transmission of COVID-19 could translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, and workplaces may experience more absenteeism. Mass gatherings may be sparsely attended or postponed. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and sectors of the transportation industry may also be affected. Healthcare providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions will be the most important response strategy to try to delay the spread of the virus and reduce the impact of disease.
Global efforts at this time are focused concurrently on lessening the spread and impact of this virus. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat.
CDC is implementing its pandemic preparedness and response plans, working on multiple fronts, including providing specific guidance on measures to prepare communities to respond to local spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. There is an abundance of pandemic guidance developed in anticipation of an influenza pandemic that is being adapted for a potential COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlights of CDC’s Response
CDC established a COVID-19 Incident Management System on January 7, 2020. On January 21, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response.
The U.S. government has taken unprecedented steps with respect to travel in response to the growing public health threat posed by this new coronavirus:
Foreign nationals who have been in China or Iran within the past 14 days cannot enter the United States.
U.S. citizens, residents, and their immediate family members who have been in China or Iran within in the past 14 days can enter the United States, but they are subject to health monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days.
On March 11, a similar policy was expanded to include 26 European countries for a period of 30 days.
On March 8, CDC recommended that people at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
Additionally, CDC has issued the following additional specific travel guidance related to COVID-19.
CDC has issued clinical guidance, including:
On January 30, CDC published guidance for healthcare professionals on the clinical care of COVID-19 patients.
On February 3, CDC posted guidance for assessing the potential risk for various exposures to COVID-19 and managing those people appropriately.
On February 27, CDC updated its criteria to guide evaluation of persons under investigation for COVID-19.
On March 8, CDC issued a Health Alert Network (HAN).
On March 10, CDC issued updated infection control guidance for healthcare settings, including guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during a shortage.
CDC has deployed multidisciplinary teams to support state health departments case identification, contact tracing, clinical management, and public communications.
CDC has worked with federal partners to support the safe return of Americans overseas who have been affected by COVID-19.
This is a picture of CDC’s laboratory test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). CDC tests are provided to U.S. state and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories and select international laboratories.
An important part of CDC’s role during a public health emergency is to develop a test for the pathogen and equip state and local public health labs with testing capacity.
CDC developed an rRT-PCR test to diagnose COVID-19.
As of the evening of March 10, 79 state and local public health labs in 50 states and the District of Columbia have successfully verified and are currently using CDC COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
Combined with other reagents that CDC has procured, there are enough testing kits to test more than 75,000 people.
In addition, CDC has two laboratories conducting testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC can test approximately 350 specimens per day.
Commercial labs are working to develop their own tests that hopefully will be available soon. This will allow a greater number of tests to happen close to where potential cases are.
CDC has grown the COVID-19 virus in cell culture, which is necessary for further studies, including for additional genetic characterization. The cell-grown virus was sent to NIH’s BEI Resources Repository for use by the broad scientific community.
CDC also is developing a serology test for COVID-19.
Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:
Individuals and communities should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves and their communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
If you are a healthcare provider, use your judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Factors to consider in addition to clinical symptoms may include:
Does the patient have recent travel from an affected area?
Has the patient been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or with patients with pneumonia of unknown cause?
Does the patient reside in an area where there has been community spread of COVID-19?
If you are a healthcare provider or a public health responder caring for a COVID-19 patient, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.
If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home.
If you are a resident in a community where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19 and you develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home.
For people who are ill with COVID-19, but are not sick enough to be hospitalized, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness.
If you have been in China or another affected area or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touchingyour eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and otherpeople if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
Diluting your household bleach.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens pdf icon[7 pages]external icon claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
If there are any questions about this info or how it relates to what we are doing here at Everett & Hurite to protect our staff and patients, please do not hesitate to ask our managers and/or doctors. Thank you!