With the discovery of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Hubei Province of China, the world’s attention has once again been focused on a possible epidemic. According the World Health Organization’s (WHO) daily press briefing on February 5th, there have been 24,363 confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV to date, 490 of which have resulted in death. However, 99% of cases remain confined to the Hubei Province. Only 1%, or roughly 191 cases, have been confirmed in other countries and only one death has been reported.

Coronaviruses are very common, according to Dr. Michelle Barron, Medical Director for the Infection Control and Prevention at the University of Colorado Hospital, in an informative email sent to all patients in the hospital’s database. With symptoms that present identical to the common cold and other respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, it is difficult to pinpoint whether or not an individual has contracted the coronavirus. In addition, infected individuals are contagious well before they ever exhibit any symptoms. At this time, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that testing on individuals suspected of having coronavirus be limited to those who indicate they have recently traveled to China, or who have been exposed to someone who has traveled to China.

Dr. John Bradley, the Medical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases for Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego, stated in a recent interview that the public should “be cautious, but not anxious” about the spread of the coronavirus. “This is not a vicious virus,” he emphasized. Though it is extremely contagious, particularly because it has not been seen in humans before, it has mortality rates similar to influenza, which is to say less than 2% of infected patients die. Those who typically succumb have an underlying condition that is not directly because of the coronavirus. Many patients survive if given the correct level of care, according to the WHO’s February 5th press briefing.

While the CDC recommends against travel to China and the WHO has declared a “formal public health emergency,” basic preventative measures are still very effective. These include covering coughs and sneezes, regularly washing hands or using antibacterial hand sanitizers, and wearing a mask when coming into contact with sick people. In addition, medical professionals urge adults and children to stay home from work or school if they have a fever and to remain at home for 24 hours after fever symptoms are gone without the use of over-the-counter medications. If you do come down with symptoms and believe you may have been exposed to the 2019-nCoV, seek medical help and report that you may have been exposed.

With the novel coronavirus spreading to countries outside of China, it is important that healthcare facilities confine and isolate the virus from the workforce. Health care professionals who work with infectious patients may be required to wear respirators and those devices must be tested annually. It is important to ensure the masks on these respirators fit correctly, with a tight seal that prevents contaminated air from leaking in.

Carminati Consulting’s award-winning Immuware can help protect your workforce from the coronavirus and other infectious diseases. In addition, it can help you track and record screenings, illnesses, and more, making it the perfect tool to help you remain ahead of the coronavirus outbreak. The WHO emphasizes that we have a unique opportunity to stop widespread infection by the 2019-nCoV and bring it under control. Immuware can help. Visit Immuware.com to check out more information and to set up a free demonstration of what Immuware can do for you. With tools like Immuware, we can help manage any infectious outbreak, even one as insidious as the novel coronavirus.