Both MERS and SARS have been known to cause severe illness in people. The situation with regard to coronavirus is still unclear. While severe illness, including illness resulting in a number of deaths, has been reported in China, many other patients have had milder illness and been discharged.
There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Coronavirus in the U.S
The CDC announced Tuesday afternoon that the first case of coronavirus has been reported in the United States, in Washington state.
The man returned to the Seattle area in the middle of last week after traveling to Wuhan, China. The Snohomish County resident is in his 30s and was in good condition Tuesday at a hospital in Everett, outside Seattle. He’s not considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said.
Late last week, U.S. health officials began screening passengers from Wuhan at three U.S. airports — New York City’s Kennedy airport and the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports. On Tuesday, the CDC announced it will add Chicago’s O’Hare airport and Atlanta’s airport to the mix later this week.
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).
There is much more to learn about how coronavirus spreads, severity of associated illness, and other features of the virus. Investigations are ongoing. While CDC considers this is a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk from coronavirus to the general American public is considered low at this time. Nevertheless, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions.
What to Expect
Access to the full genetic sequence of coronavirus will help identify infections with this virus going forward. More cases may be identified in the coming days, including more in countries outside China, including possibly more cases in the United States. Given what has occurred previously with MERS and SARS, it’s likely that some limited person-to-person spread will continue to occur.
For Funeral Directors
NFDA has consulted with federal officials and embalming experts. At this time, they recommend that should an individual die from coronavirus, funeral home personnel who will come into contact with the body should use universal precautions.
There is no vaccine for human coronaviruses, and most people will recover on their own. A room humidifier or hot shower can relieve a sore throat and cough, the CDC says. Mildly sick patients should drink liquids and rest as must as possible.
Summary of the CDC Response
CDC is closely monitoring this situation and is working with World Health Organization.
CDC established a coronavirus Incident Management Structure on January 7, 2020. On January 21, 2020, CDC activated its
Emergency Response System to better provide ongoing support to the coronavirus response.
On January 21, 2020, CDC again updated its interim travel health notice for this destination to provide information to people who may be traveling to Wuhan City and who may get sick. The travel notice was raised from Level 1; Practice Usual Precautions, to a Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions advising travelers that preliminary information suggests that older adults with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.
CDC began entry screening of passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan, China, to the three main ports of entry in the United States on January 17, 2020, and will to expand that screening in the coming days. CDC, working with the Department of Homeland Security, also will funnel all travelers from Wuhan, China to the five airports conducting entry health screening. Together, the five airports will cover all travelers arriving in the United States whose travel originated from Wuhan, China.
CDC issued an updated interim Health Alert Notice Advisory to inform state and local health departments and health care providers about this outbreak on January 17, 2020.
A CDC team has deployed a team to support the ongoing investigation in the state of Washington in response to the first reported case of 2019-nCoV in the United States, including potentially tracing close contacts to determine if anyone else has become ill.
CDC has developed a real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) test that can diagnose coronavirus. Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC, but in the coming days and weeks, CDC will share these tests with domestic and international partners through the agency’s International Reagent Resource.
Other Informational Resources
CDC Information on Coronaviruses
World Health Organization, Coronavirus
CDC Travelers’ Health: Novel Coronavirus in China
CDC Health Alert Network Advisory Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan, China
CDC Health Alert Network Advisory information for state and local health departments and health care providers
What We Know About Wuhan Coronavirus: For One Thing It Appears Far Less Dangerous Than SARS, MERS
Coronavirus Death Toll, Number of Cases Climb as Chinese Officials Try to Contain Outbreak During Busy Travel Time
Airport Screenings Ramp Up at Five Major American Hubs as First U.S. Case Of Coronavirus Is Confirmed