Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people always are public health concerns. The risk from these outbreaks 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, vaccine or treatment medications).
The potential public health threat posed by 2019-nCoV virus is high, both globally and to the United States. The fact that this virus has caused illness, including illness resulting in death and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. It’s unclear how the situation will unfold, but risk depends on exposure . At this time, some people will have an increased risk of infection, for example healthcare workers caring for 2019-nCoV patients and other close contacts of 2019-nCoV patients. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low at this time.
What to Expect
More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.
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.
The public health response is multi-layered, with the goal of detecting and minimizing introductions of this virus in the United States so as to reduce the spread and the impact of this virus.
CDC established a 2019-nCoV Incident Management Structure on Jan. 7, 2020. On Jan. 21, 2020, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the 2019-nCoV response.
On Jan. 27, 2020, CDC issued updated travel guidance for China, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all of the country (Level 3 Travel Health Notice ).
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:
Effective Feb. 2, 2020 at 5 p.m. the U.S. government suspended entry of foreign nationals who have been in China within 14 days of the travel suspension.
U.S. citizens, residents and their immediate family members who have been in Hubei province and other parts of mainland China are allowed to enter the United States, but they are subject to health monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days.
CDC issued an interim Health Alert Network (HAN) Update to inform state and local health departments and healthcare professionals about this outbreak on Feb. 1, 2020.
On Jan. 30, 2020, CDC published guidance for healthcare professionals on the clinical care of 2019-nCoV patients.
On Feb. 3, 2020, CDC posted guidance for assessing the potential risk for various exposures to 2019-nCoV and managing those people appropriately.
While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:
It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.
If you are a healthcare provider, be on the look-out for people who recently traveled from China and have fever and respiratory symptoms.
If you are a healthcare provider caring for a 2019-nCoV patient or a public health responder, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.
For people who have had close contact with someone infected with 2019-nCoV who develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure to a 2019-nCoV patient.
For people ill with 2019-nCoV, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others. This guidance in on the CDC website.
Source: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention