2019 Novel Coronavirus: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know

2019 Novel Coronavirus: What Healthcare Professionals Needs to Know
Cross Country Healthcare
February 10, 2020 13:30 PM (GMT-04:00)

As the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to pose a global health threat, efforts to contain and diminish the impact in the United States have been largely led by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, the CDC has been proactively preparing for the introduction of 2019-nCoV in the U.S. for weeks. However, according to Cross Country Healthcare’s Chief Clinical Officer, Hank Drummond, there is also a need for private-sector organizations to prepare for and help manage potential outbreaks. “Prevention and spread of diseases, viruses and outbreaks takes all of us being diligent to prevent further spread of outbreak,” says Drummond.

To that end, we’ve outlined the key information you need to know about the novel coronavirus and how you can help protect yourself and those around you.

What is 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

According to the CDC, it is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. The virus originated in an outbreak in Wuhan, China, however it has since been detected in 11 cases in the U.S. at the time of this writing.

How does the 2019 novel coronavirus spread?

Although this virus is spread from person-to-person, it’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. For example, some viruses are highly contagious (i.e. measles) while other viruses are less so. At this time, it is unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. However, it is not currently spreading in communities in the U.S. To learn more about the spread of the novel coronavirus, click here.

Symptoms to look for in 2019-nCoV

According to the CDC, patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Severe complications from this virus includes pneumonia in both lungs, high fever and a quick decline in health affecting multiple body systems.

How to Protect Yourself from 2019-nCoV

The best way to prevent infection, says the CDC, is to avoid being exposed to this virus. There are simple everyday preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • 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.
  • Avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

Is there a vaccine or treatment for 2019-nCoV available?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV so the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. There is also no specific antiviral treatment so people with 2019-nCoV can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. ]

Specific information of 2019-nCoV for healthcare providers.

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients being evaluated with fever and acute respiratory illness. The CDC guidance for evaluating and reporting a PUI for MERS-CoV remains unchanged.

For healthcare providers, the CDC has issued the guidance below for patient evaluations.

Clinical Features & Epidemiologic Risk
Fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND Any person, including health care workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV patient within 14 days of symptom onset
Fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND A history of travel from Hubel Provence, China within 14 days of symptom onset
Fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) requiring hospitalization AND A history of travel from mainland China within 14 days of symptom onset

Healthcare providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their healthcare facility and their local or state health department in the event of a PUI for 2019-nCoV. State health departments that have identified a PUI should immediately contact CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 and complete a 2019-nCoV PUI case investigation form.

“We will continue to partner with the CDC, World Health Organization and state and local health agencies as we respond to this public threat,” says Drummond.  “At any time if you have any specific questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the Clinical Hotline for Cross Country Healthcare at 800-998-5058.  Our team of healthcare professionals stand ready to assist you.”

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