From December 31, 2019 through January 3, 2020, a total of 44 case-patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by national authorities in China. The Chinese quickly isolated a new coronavirus on January 7, 2020, and by January 20, 2020, there were 282 confirmed infected cases. The new virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and continues to spread throughout the mainland there. Just a little over a month later, this novel coronavirus, named COVID-19, has now infected over 42,000 people in China, causing 1,107 deaths there, and has spread globally to 25 other countries. One person has now died in the Philippines. This coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern.
At this point in time, there is limited information about the coronavirus in terms of disease severity, transmission efficiency, and shedding duration of COVID-19, and scientists continue to investigate this.
Considering what we know about SARs, MERs, and other viruses such as influenza, transmission risk is more likely when symptoms are present because shedding is more common during that time with most viruses. “There have been reports of spread from an infected patient with no symptoms, to a close contact” (CDC, 2020). The incubation period is estimated to be at about 5 days.
It is important to be mindful of the fact that when droplets of various sizes enter the air through coughing or sneezing, they can land in the mouths and noses of people nearby (within 6 feet) and can then be inhaled. It is currently unclear if COVID-19 can be transmitted when touching a surface where droplets landed, and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Therefore, recommendations for PPE include the use of N95 respirators, gloves, eye shields, and gowns.
Follow these important steps throughout the continuum of care for infection control and prevention:
This blog post is an excerpt from a HealthStream white paper, What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know About the Coronavirus, about the global healthcare threat posed by the coronavirus COVID-19. It includes references that will provide you with detailed information that you need should you suspect COVID-19 or must manage confirmed cases. HealthStream put together this basic high-level information as an initial primer for healthcare professionals who want to know more about the coronavirus threat. As with any emerging infection, make sure that you become familiar with the resources available on the CDC website. The CDC updates information there as they learn it, so checking in daily and setting up an email notification for updates is strongly recommended.
Learn more by reading similar blogs:
Handling N95s, Ventilated Face Masks, and Social Distancing
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this blog post was considered current at the time of its publishing, 02/19/20. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-evolving disaster due to new findings, data, and availability of resources. Please refer to the CDC website for the latest detailed information when you need it.
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