Guide Information on the Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – updated as of January 31, 2020

Information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Recently, a new coronavirus—2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus—was detected in Wuhan, China. This coronavirus causes a respiratory (lung) infection. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of this coronavirus in Massachusetts. At this time, the risk to residents in Massachusetts is low.

As of January 31 at 11:30am EST, there have been 6 confirmed cases in the United States:

1 confirmed case in AZ
2 confirmed cases in CA
2 confirmed cases in IL
1 confirmed case in WA

Imported cases of the new coronavirus infection in people have been detected in the U.S. While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.

For the most updated numbers, please visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

The new coronavirus has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections, primarily in China, with a small proportion of cases resulting in death. Other countries, including the United States, have identified a small but growing number of cases in people who have traveled to China.

Symptoms of this infection include:

fever
cough and shortness of breath, and
in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs).
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is working closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more and will provide updated information on this website as it becomes available as well as guidance for the public.

Airport screening

Boston Logan International Airport has been identified by the CDC as one of 20 U.S. airports that will have enhanced risk assessments for passengers arriving from China.

According to the CDC website, this could include:

Travelers fill out a short questionnaire about their travel, any symptoms, and contact information.

CDC staff take the temperature of each traveler with a hand-held non-contact thermometer (thermometers that do not touch the skin) and observe the traveler for cough or difficulty breathing. If sick travelers are identified, CDC evaluates them further to determine whether they should be taken to a hospital for medical evaluation and to get care as needed.

If the traveler does not have symptoms, CDC staff will provide health information cards to take with them. The cards tell travelers what symptoms to look out for, and what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after leaving China.

Important health information for those who have recently traveled to China
If you recently traveled to China and feel sick with fever, cough or trouble breathing, or you develop symptoms, you should:

Seek medical care right away. Call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms.
Avoid contact with others. Stay home, except for seeking medical care.

Avoid further travel until the illness resolves.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses; some cause illness in people and some occur in animals, including camels, civet cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then may spread between people. Human coronaviruses cause routine seasonal respiratory virus infections. Other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, can cause serious illnesses.

How does Coronavirus spread?

Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited. Early cases in China were associated with markets that sold live animals for food. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including whether and how well it spreads between people, the severity of the illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).

We know that outbreaks of new virus infections among people are always of public health concern and are working to make sure you have all the information you need to understand what is happening and how to protect yourself and your family.
Prevention
Although the risk to residents of Massachusetts is low, many of the things you do to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect you against other respiratory viruses:

Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
Stay home if you are sick.
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against coronavirus infection.

Treatment

At this time there is no specific treatment for this novel coronavirus. Antiviral medications used to treat other types of viruses are being used but their efficacy is not known at this time.

For health care providers

Clinicians who see patients with recent travel to China who have a fever, lower respiratory tract symptoms (such as shortness of breath and cough), and/or contact with a known novel coronavirus patient, should contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) 24/7 at (617) 983-6800 for assistance. Further clinical guidance can be found in our Clinical Advisory.

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