Coronavirus: an emerging situation

The recent outbreak of coronavirus is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide updated information & guidance as it becomes available.

The CDC’s webpage dedicated to the coronavirus can be found here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

Background

The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of a new coronavirus, named “2019-nCoV,” that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The disease is spreading person-to-person in China, and Chinese health officials have reported thousands of infections.

Infections with 2019-nCoV, mostly associated with travel from Wuhan, have been reported in a growing number of locations outside China, including the United States. The US reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.

On that same day, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” and the following day (January 31st) the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar II, declared a public health emergency for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to 2019-nCoV. Also on January 31, President Trump signed a presidential “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus.” These measures were announced by members of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.

Situation in U.S.

Imported cases of 2019-nCoV infection in travelers have been detected in the U.S. Person-to-person spread of 2019-nCoV also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, but at this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.

The U.S. government has taken unprecedented steps related to travel in response to the growing public health threat posed by this new coronavirus, including suspending entry in the United States of foreign nationals who have visited China within the past 14 days. Measures to detect this virus among those who are allowed entry into the United States (U.S. citizens, residents and family) who have been in China within 14 days also are being implemented.

Illness Severity

Both MERS and SARS have been known to cause severe illness in people. The complete clinical picture with regard to 2019-nCoV is not fully understood. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Learn more about the symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV.

There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Risk Assessment

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including whether and how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).

This is a very serious public health threat. The fact that this virus has caused severe illness and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning, but it’s unclear how the situation in the United States will unfold at this time.

The risk to individuals is dependent on exposure. At this time, some people will have an increased risk of infection, for example healthcare workers caring for 2019-nCoV patients and other close contacts of 2019-nCoV patients. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low at this time. The goal of the ongoing U.S. public health response is to detect new cases quickly and prevent further spread of 2019-nCoV in this country.

What to Expect

More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.

CDC Recommends

While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:

Other Available Resources

The following resources are available with information on 2019-nCoV: