The U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) hosted a webinar on Monday, January 27, 2020 educating business leaders on the Novel Coronavirus and the action they can take to keep their workplaces and communities safe.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at the CDC, lead the webinar.
“Our current measures include enhanced entry screening which is a part of a very aggressive public health strategy to contain this outbreak,” Dr. Messonnier said. “We do expect that in the coming days and weeks we will see more cases of the Coronavirus in the United States and certainly globally.”
The Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first detected in Wuhan City Hubei Province, China on December 31, 2019. Since then there have been over 2,000 cases of which more than 100 have been fatal. However, with only five reported cases in the United States the CDC believes the risk to the American public is low. All five Americans who have contracted the virus are stable and recovering.
It is not yet fully understood how Coronavirus is transferred from person-to-person, although it is thought to be from close contact with an infected person. The CDC believes the virus has poor survivability on surfaces and will die within hours without a host. Therefore, products or packaging exported out of China is considered safe for consumption and handling.
The CDC activated its emergency operation center and has been responding to this outbreak since early January. The majority of cases have been recorded in the Wuhan and the Hubei Provinces of China, but cases have been reported in every Chinese province. Cases have also been reported in 15 other countries including the United States. In each of the five American cases the patients personally traveled to Hubei Provence.
The CDC is taking an aggressive approach to combating this outbreak and has teams in the field and standing by to support those infected. While the CDC is taking great measures to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus there are actions that businesses and individuals could take to protect themselves and others, to include handwashing.
For more information see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/prevention.html
“I do think it’s important for business leaders to continue to emphasize to your staff that the immediate risk to the American public today is believed to be low,” Dr. Messonnier said.
She also recommended companies and offices create an outbreak plan for in the event someone in the office becomes ill or if the outbreak becomes more aggressive.
FEMA offers a guide for developing a Pandemic Influenza Continuity of Operations Plan.
The U.S. Department of Labor also provides a guide on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic.
“We are still learning about this Novel Coronavirus and are monitoring the situation closely. We anticipate updating our recommendations and guidance as information changes,” Dr. Messonnier said.