The headlines are dominated daily with the latest news about the rapidly spreading novel Coronavirus, 2019nCoV. With people easily flying internationally, the world is a lot smaller than it was in 2003 when the SARS virus was a global concern or even 11 years ago when Swine flu was declared a world health emergency. As of February 5 there are just over 20,000 confirmed cases, mostly in China with 500 deaths and the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a global emergency. Here in the United States there are 11 confirmed coronavirus cases and none in New Jersey, although Princeton students who have recently returned from traveling in China are being told to self-isolate for two weeks.
Melissa Szarzynski, Shore Medical Center manager of infection control said the hospital is constantly monitoring all of the information, being part of the daily calls from the New Jersey Dept. of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are prepared as best we can be; from admission and registration to the emergency department, everyone is on board. From the moment patients come in they are being asked questions about their symptoms,” said Szarzynski. “A patient that comes in with upper respiratory symptoms such as a cough and fever is getting masked as a precaution.” She added that hospital personnel are asking the patient if they have traveled to an area where there is an outbreak. “We are at the peak of flu season and we have visitor restrictions in the hospital in place,” said Szarzynski. “People need to cover when they cough or sneeze and be vigilant about washing hands. Those are still the best precautions people can take for any type of virus, flu or pneumonia type disease.”
“We care for the entire community,” said Szarzynski. “The infection control teams are small but they are mighty. We are in constant contact with all other health care facilities in the region so that we all remain informed and in front of all of the information available.” She added that people need to remember that while the coronavirus is what is in the headlines, more than 8,000 deaths have occurred as a result of the flu in the United States. “It is still not too late to get a flu shot,” said Szarzynski, adding that it will protect against the flu or possibly lessen the severity of the symptoms.
CDC on Coronavirus
The CDC indicates that confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. It presents with flu-like symptoms and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC report says that symptoms of the 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. They are basing that what has been previously seen as an incubation period of the MERS viruses.
CDC Advises Public What to Do
The current outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV originated in China but has now spread internationally, impacting an increasing number of countries. Sustained community spread is occurring in China. Limited person-to-person spread, most associated with close contact with a patient with confirmed 2019-nCoV has been seen outside of China. No community spread of 2019-nCovV has been identified in the United States at this time. In the coming days and weeks, we expect more confirmed cases in the United States, including some person-to-person spread. The goal of CDCs aggressive ongoing public health response is to prevent spread of 2019-nCoV in in the United States.
Remember to take everyday preventive actions that are always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
- If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have traveled to China or were in close contact with someone with 2019-nCoV in the 14 days before you began to feel sick, seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.