Outbreak coronavirus world 480x236px 1

What is Novel Coron­avirus?
Coron­aviruses are a large family of viruses that usually only cause mild respi­ra­tory disease, like the common cold. Two previ­ously identi­fied coron­aviruses — Middle Eastern Respi­ra­tory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respi­ra­tory Syndrome (SARS) have been more severe. This novel coron­avirus is a new strain of coron­avirus. Current infor­ma­tion suggests it is not as severe as MERS or SARS

On January 30th, the World Health Organi­za­tion declared Novel Coron­avirus outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of Inter­na­tional Concern. At this time, it is has not reached epidemic or pandemic status. 

What are the symptoms of novel coron­avirus and how is it spread?
Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat, and general feeling of illness. Young people, senior citizens, and people with under­lying health condi­tions or compro­mised immune systems may be at increased risk of severe disease. 

It is impor­tant to note there have been no positive cases identi­fied where the infected person did not have contact with another already infected person. Currently, 2 human-to-human trans­mis­sions have occurred in the US, both between husband and wife. The one positive case in Washington was discharged from the hospital on February 3rd, 2020 and is contin­uing to be monitored at home. 

Novel coron­avirus is most commonly spread from infected persons to others through the air by coughing or sneezing; close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands and rarely via fecal conta­m­i­na­tion; and touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes before handwashing. 

The Washington State Depart­ment of Health is currently partnering with the Centers for Disease Control, local health districts, and multiple public and private agencies within the state (including WSNA) to keep the public informed. 

How is the threat from coron­avirus being monitored?
A call center has been estab­lished to address questions from the public at 18005250127, press #. 

The DOH has set up a separate webpage on their site specif­i­cally dedicated to the Novel Coron­avirus outbreak. Currently, the state is tracking the following infor­ma­tion at the state level. These numbers are updated daily: 

  • Number of positive (confirmed) cases 
  • Number of negative tests 
  • Persons Under Inves­ti­ga­tion Pending Results
    A person under inves­ti­ga­tion is an ill person with possible Novel Coron­avirus who is in the process of being tested.
  • Total Tested
  • Close contacts being monitored
    A close contact is a person who has been within approx­i­mately 6 feet of a person with confirmed novel coron­avirus for a prolonged period (more than 10 minutes) or has had direct contact with secre­tions from a person with confirmed novel coronavirus.
  • Persons under Manda­tory Quarantine.

Addition­ally, the website contains resources for Local Health Juris­dic­tions and Health­care Providers, Infor­ma­tion for School Nurses and Admin­is­tra­tors, and workplace recommendations. 

On January 31st, new federal measures were announced to control the spread of novel coron­avirus. The Depart­ment of Homeland Security is working with the CDC and DOH to screen all passen­gers coming from China for fever and respi­ra­tory symptoms upon arrival at Seattle-Tacoma Inter­na­tional Airport. 

  • Passen­gers who are ill will be immedi­ately isolated from others, evalu­ated by a CDC medical profes­sional at the airport, and if needed, safely taken to a hospital for further evalu­a­tion. No travelers are under manda­tory quaran­tine at this time. 
  • Passen­gers without symptoms of novel coron­avirus infec­tion who have been in Hubei Province in the last 14 days will be placed under quaran­tine with daily active monitoring by public health officials until their 15th day after leaving Hubei Province.

    This number is antic­i­pated to be low as trans­porta­tion from Hubei was discon­tinued around 10 days ago.

    Home quaran­tine is the first choice; if that is not possible the DOH has a safe facility ready to use that is away from other members of the public.

  • Asymp­to­matic travelers returning from China who did not travel to the Hubei Province in the last 14 days will receive a Travel Health Alert Notice. These travelers can continue to their home desti­na­tion provided they remain asymp­to­matic. The notice asks them to stay at home and monitor their health for the next 14 days with the help of public health officials.

What is WSNA doing to assist current efforts?
WSNA is taking part in the multi-agency public response estab­lished by the DOH. This has included webinars, phone confer­ences, and ongoing infor­ma­tion sharing. 

The Depart­ment of Health is consid­ered the primary source for accurate, up-to-date infor­ma­tion. There­fore, WSNA is sharing infor­ma­tion from the DOH on the WSNA website and social media platforms. This infor­ma­tion is reviewed daily and updated as needed. WSNA members with questions or concerns are encour­aged to contact their local Unit Repre­sen­ta­tives, the Public Hotline at 18005250127 press #, and the WSNA and DOH websites. 

What are the current recom­men­da­tions to protect against novel coron­avirus?
Current recom­men­da­tions to reduce the risk and spread of novel coron­avirus are the same as for any viral respi­ra­tory infec­tion. These include: 

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available. 
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands. 
  • Clean and disin­fect objects and surfaces. 
  • Stay at home and away from others if feeling ill. 
  • Stay current on influenza and pneumonia vaccinations. 

Masking in public in the absence of respi­ra­tory symptoms is not recom­mended or neces­sary at this time.

What additional resources are available?