Cases of COVID-2019 reported in multiple areas of the US in early February. Risk to public is low. Use basic health precautions.

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Orange County, California
  • Everett, Washington
  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Anaheim

This alert began 14 Feb 2020 08:06 GMT and is scheduled to expire 14 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), limited local transmission
  • Location(s): Multiple areas (map)
  • Period: January-February 2020
  • Cases: 15

Summary
US authorities have laboratory-confirmed 15 imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from mainland China, and in some instances, limited human-to-human transmission from those imported cases since mid-January. Travelers arriving from Wuhan, China, imported four cases; health officials identified the fifth case Jan. 30 in Chicago, Illinois, in the family member of an individual with an imported case in the city. This represents the first locally acquired case of the disease in the US. The 15th case is the first among quarantined individuals at the Joint Base San Antonia (JBSA)-Lackland to test positive for COVID-19. Health officials have also reported imported cases in Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County, California; Everett, Washington; and Madison, Wisconsin. All individuals are receiving treatment in isolation until their symptoms resolve. The risk to the public remains low. This represents the latest case count as of Feb. 14.

Background and Analysis
Health authorities expect imported cases of this disease as disease surveillance continues globally. Officials may add additional countries and territories. Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission is occurring, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

On Jan. 30, the WHO declared the ongoing outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This indicates COVID-19 requires a coordinated international response, primarily due to the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems that would be ill-equipped to contain it. So far, every country that has identified imported cases has contained them appropriately.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Avoid close contact with animals (dead or alive), especially at wet markets. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel

WHO coronavirus knowledge base

 

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