2019 Novel Coronavirus

One of our registrars, Dr Sabrina Virji, attended a briefing by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the recent Coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what we know so far.

2019 Novel Coronavirus

** 14 February 2020 **

 

Those who are most at risk of getting the virus have:

  • Recently been to mainland China
  • Been in close contact with someone who is a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19

Prevention

The use of face masks are not recommended for asymptomatic members of the public who are not in close contact with someone who is a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 infection

 

“close contact” is defined by the CDC as:

  • Being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a 2019-nCoV case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a 2019-nCoV case; or
  • Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a 2019-nCoV case (e.g., being coughed on)

If such contact occurs while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment or PPE (e.g., gowns, gloves, NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirator, eye protection), criteria for PUI consideration are met”

 

Exercise good hygiene:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water
  • Using a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoiding close contact with symptomatic individuals, such as touching
** 30 January 2020 **

The situation remains fluid and rapidly evolving with over 6000 confirmed cases globally, at least 68 cases in locations outside of China.

The Australian Government has issued the following advice:

  • People who have been in contact with confirmed novel coronavirus cases must be isolated in their home for 14 days after exposure
  • Returned travellers who have been in Hubei Province of China must be isolated in their home for 14 days after leaving Hubei Province other than for seeking individual medical care

Smart Traveller recommends you do not travel to Hubei province in China.

Advice from CDC for travellers:

  • Avoid all non-essential travel to China
  • Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider
  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets and products that come from animals(such as uncooked meat)
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available

A risk assessment for PPE is currently underway and is expected to be completed by 5 February 2020

** 28 January 2020 **

On 31st December 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was first notified of a cluster of cases of pneumonia caused by what is now known as the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV-2019) in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in central China.

Coronaviruses are usually one of the viruses that cause the common cold,  however two previous coronaviruses have caused significant outbreaks associated with more severe disease – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in 2002/2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in 2012.

Symptoms of coronavirus are nonspecific and include fever or history of fever and acute respiratory infection (with shortness of breath, cough and/or sore throat).

Outbreaks like this, when a new strain of the Coronavirus merges and infects people, are always concerning. It is understandable why people are concerned about this virus and how it may impact Australians.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • There are currently thousands of people infected in China, with the current numbers (as at 6am 28th January 2020) of 2744 confirmed cases and 80 deaths in China, with majority of cases in Wuhan and the Hubei province. 15 other locations are reporting cases
  • China has closed transport within and out of the city of Wuhan
  • The situation is emerging, and rapidly evolving. We do expect to see additional cases globally among close contacts as well as human to human transmission
  • The CDC will continue to provide updates as information changes
  • There is inadequate information available to determine the fatality rate amongst those infected
  • The data suggests the more severe illness and poor outcomes are in patients with underlying illness and those who are older
  • The five patients infected in the US remain in isolation but are doing well
  • The transmission rates are currently unknown
  • Then CoV-19 is a beta coronavirus, of similar structure to the SARS and MERS virus. Based on the behavior of these other viruses, it is thought that nCoV-19 has poor survivability on surfaces (benches, door knobs) and currently the thought is that transmission is through droplets, there are no cases of transmission from surfaces
  • There is no risk associated with products coming out of China based on available data
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) - The CDC do not believe the public are required to don PPE (masks)
  • The CDC continues to prepare for a pandemic, but recognises they are taking a cautious and measured approach
  • The CDC and WHO are monitoring the situation closely

The WHO have made the following non-specific recommendations for those travelling to Wuhan:

  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
  • Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
  • Avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals
  • Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands)
  • Awareness of up-to-date travel information through Smart Traveller

 

In addition to the above, the following additional precautions can be taken and are highly recommended:

  • Up to date influenza vaccination
  • Reinforce the need for good respiratory hygiene
  • Volunteer a travel history to health professionals in the event of illness 

What can you, as a business, do to help your workers both at home and in the workplace?

  • Emphasize the risk to the public remains low though the CDC and WHO continues to re-evaluate that risk
  • Encourage your workers who have recently travelled to the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in central China and who are ill to stay home
  • Avoid all non-essential travel to Wuhan, China
  • As of 27th January 2020, the CDC recommends anyone who is travelling to anywhere in China take certain health precautions which include avoiding contact with people who are sick, continuing to practice good hand hygiene, and older individuals or those with underlying medical conditions are advised to see their doctor before they travel

 

Clinicians, travellers, employers and the general public should refer to current information to guide their actions as the situation continues to evolve.

 

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International

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