The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread with over 45,000 confirmed cases and 1,100 recorded deaths.
The majority of deaths have occurred in Hubei Provence, the epicenter of the outbreak. The first death outside of mainland China occurred in early February in Hong Kong and the first death outside of China occurred in the Philippines.
As the number of infections continues to soar, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains that the immediate threat to the American public is low. Currently there have been 13 confirmed cases in the United States, 11 of which are associated with travel and two are attributed to close contact with those travelers. According to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at the CDC all infected patents in the United States are showing improvement.
Symptoms of the Coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and they could appear between 2-14 days after exposure. These symptoms are similar to that of the common cold, but the CDC warns that for elderly individuals and individuals with underlying illness or immunodeficiencies the Coronavirus poses a more serious threat.
While the threat to the American public is currently low the CDC is urging individuals to exercise caution and continue practicing standard flu prevention strategies. Washing hands and using alcohol based hand sanitizer is critical to preventing the spread of disease.
Little is known about how the Coronavirus spreads outside of person-to-person contact. The CDC still believes the virus has low survivability on surfaces, therefore, surfaces and products coming from China are safe to use and consume.
In an effort to prevent the spread of virus, the CDC is shipping out Coronavirus laboratory test kits to select laboratories across the United States. Each kit can test between 700-800 patient specimens. The CDC has also set up public health screenings at major airports and four airplanes that flew into the United States this week from Wuhan, China are currently under CDC quarantine.
The CDC is requesting any American who has visited China within the last 14 days, and did not receive screening upon their arrival in the United States, conduct in home quarantine. Scientists expect to see more cases in the United States although the CDC is taking action to keep those numbers to a minimum.
Check out IEM’s previous blog post about the Coronavirus for more information.