The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a total of 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, with one case so far in Boston from a man who visited the area of China where the virus started.
As the spreading of the new disease depends on exposure to someone who has it, the CDC has declared the risk of exposure in the United States to be low.
Since the first confirmed instance of the coronavirus respiratory disease spread in the United States on Jan. 30, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization have declared the outbreak of the disease abbreviated COVID-19 to be a public health emergency.
Last Thursday, the CDC released a statement of the current status of the severity and origin of the virus.
The newly emerging virus comes from a family of viruses common in many different animal species. COVID-19 has been linked to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China, according to the CDC, which suggests that it spread from animals to people. The virus has since started spreading person-to-person.
China has reported tens of thousands of cases of the disease caused by the virus, and more countries have seen the virus spread outside of China.
The first case of the coronavirus spread from person to person in the United States was also reported on Jan 30.
“Person to person spread of COVID-10 also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, but at this time, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States,” the summary reads.
It explains that the risk of spreading is limited in proximity to anyone who has returned to the U.S. from China recently.
While risks of catching the coronavirus range from mild sickness to death, the health risk for the general American public is dependent on exposure and therefore low. The CDC maintains that the potential for public health threat is globally high. They expect more cases of person-to-person spread of the virus in the United States to come up in the coming days.
To further prevent the spread of the virus, the President of the United States signed a proclamation on Jan. 31 to suspend the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants that pose a risk of transmitting the disease upon their return. The government also moved to suspend entry into the United States of “foreign nationals who have visited China within the past 14 days.”
They have been monitoring the health of anyone allowed entry that has visited China within 14 days.
“U.S. citizens, residents, and their immediate family members who have been in Hubei province and other parts of mainland China are allowed to enter the United States, but they are subject to health monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days.”
The CDC describes the U.S. government’s preventative steps as unprecedented.
The CDC’s goal going forward is to detect and minimize exposure to the virus so as to reduce its impact in the United States. Their current travel guidance for China would be for all travelers to avoid nonessential travel into the country. Besides issuing multiple sets of guidance to state and local health departments and healthcare professionals, the CDC has increased their emergency system and deployed extra multidisciplinary teams. They’ve shared the full genome of the viruses from reported cases in the United States.
Recommendations for remaining healthy and unaffected by this virus include getting the flu vaccine and preventing the spread of germs. This would involve covering coughs, frequently washing hands, and staying home when you’re feeling sick.
They say that healthcare providers, especially those working with COVID-19 patients, should be on the lookout for people who recently traveled from China and follow infection control procedures. Anyone who’s recently been to China or spent time with someone diagnosed with the virus in the past 14 days should contact their healthcare provider for instructions, especially if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms.
The CDC appreciates the patience of those at risk and those who are ill with COVID-19.
“Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus,” the report continues.
The CDC expects to send out updates to this guidance as the situation continues to evolve. More information and updates can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html.