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Health Promotion and Wellness Blog

Information Regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

January 30, 2020

Lewis & Clark is closely monitoring the emergence and spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We are following public health guidance disseminated by the Centers for Disease Control, local health authorities, and the American College Health Association as to best practices for responding to this outbreak.

To date there have been no confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Oregon. Even so, Lewis & Clark understands that both the real threat of the spread of the disease and the anxiety about the potential spread of the disease require an effective response. With that in mind, we want to share the following information with our community. (Note: this information has been adapted from University of Michigan University Health Services.)

If there are questions or concerns after reviewing the information below, please contact Melissa Osmond, Associate Director for Health Promotion, at 503-768-7112.

What is novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

2019-nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.

Symptoms and transmission:

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing.

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.

 

If you travel to/through Wuhan or other parts of China:

The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. If you must travel:

  • 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 an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.

IMPORTANT:  If you have been traveling in the impacted areas, or plan to, please contact the Health Service at 503-768-7165.   If you are experiencing symptoms, please call the Health Service before you come to the clinic.

Treatment:

People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. (source: CDC)

Prevention:

There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Currently, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

 

Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:
  • Traveled to China, or
  • Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms,
You should:
  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Students should contact the Health Service at 503-768-7165 during business hours (M-F 8am to 4pm). After-hours call the Nurse Helpline at 800-607-5501.
  • Employees of the college should contact their health care provider or the Multnomah County Health Department.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation or just arrive at the campus Health Service. Call ahead instead: 503-768-7165 and inform the staff that you have traveled in the past two weeks to China and your symptoms.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

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