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Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Update


2019 Novel Coronavirus

Updated January 31, 2020: Information is rapidly changing. 

For the most up-to-date information, please visit:


Please see attached for suggested talking points related to the Coronavirus (1/29/20).


Please keep in mind that every year in the U.S. seasonal flu causes thousands of hospital admissions and deaths. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has indicated that the current flu severity level is at “high” and records as many as 20,000 Emergency Room visits for Influenza like illnesses and up to 3,000 hospitalizations.


What is the 2019 novel coronavirus?

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, China. It has not been previously known to spread in humans. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) are examples of coronaviruses.

How is the 2019-nCoV spread?

When the outbreak in Wuhan, China began, many patients reported links to a large seafood and animal market. This suggested that it was spread from animal to people. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring. Currently, it's unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people. When other coronaviruses like MERS and SARS spread between people, it is thought to have happened when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. 

What are the signs and symptoms of the 2019-nCoV?

Symptoms include fever and respiratory illness, such as cough and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, infection can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Symptoms of 2019-nCoV may be similar to the flu. Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe complications from this virus. 

How can the 2019-nCoV be prevented?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to the virus. The CDC and WHO recommends standard precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using alcohol-based hand rubs and gels.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • If you have travelled to Wuhan, China or been in contact with someone who has travelled to Wuhan China, seek medical care right away. Before you go to a health care provider's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • If you have not travelled to Wuhan, China or been in contact with someone who has travelled to Wuhan, China, seek medical care from your health care provider.  Before you go to a health care provider’s office or urgent care center, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • 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.


How is the 2019-nCoV treated?

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care and help to relieve symptoms. People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact their health care provider immediately.

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