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Novel Coronavirus Update

Recently, an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus has resulted in infections in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Because this is a rapidly evolving situation and because there is frequent travel among Los Angeles County residents and visitors to areas that might be impacted by this new virus, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is closely monitoring events and partnering with local and federal agencies.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is cooperating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to recent reports of a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate mostly among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Common symptoms in an infected person include a fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Since December 2019, Chinese authorities preliminarily identified more than 2,000 human infections, including 56 deaths as of January 26, associated with this novel (new) coronavirus in an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. In addition, novel coronavirus infections have been confirmed in numerous travelers who traveled to or came from Wuhan City, including four travelers in the United States located in Arizona, Washington State, Chicago, Orange County and Los Angeles County.

Despite this case in Los Angeles County, there is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness. Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the County. The risk from the novel coronavirus 2019 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.

Because this is a new virus that we know little about, and person to person spread has been confirmed, on January 18, the CDC is continuing screening of travelers from Wuhan City at JFK airport in NYC, SFO airport in San Francisco, and LAX airport in Los Angeles, as well as ATL airport in Atlanta and ORD airport in Chicago. These airports were selected because they are the initial U.S. destinations for the vast majority of travelers from Wuhan City.

Public Health staff is assisting the CDC to ensure that travelers from Wuhan City that have a fever or respiratory illness symptoms upon arrival to LAX are appropriately screened, tested and receive care. Travelers from Wuhan City who are not ill upon arrival are being provided with a card that includes information on symptoms and advised to seek care if they become ill while visiting LA County. While there is no cure for this virus, our hospital partners and clinical providers will be able to test and care for ill travelers to minimize transmission and severe illness. Public Health issued a new health advisory informing local healthcare providers in LA County of the current situation on January 17, 2020. Our team from Acute Communicable Disease Control (ACDC) will continue providing updates and working with local healthcare providers as the situation evolves.

While there is much more to learn about the severity and other features associated with this novel coronavirus, and investigations are ongoing in China, based on current information, the risk from the novel coronavirus 2019 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.

If you or someone you know is planning on traveling to Wuhan, the following are important steps to take:

  •  Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you or someone you know has traveled to Wuhan and feel sick, please:

  • Stay home and avoid contact with others, except for seeking medical care.
  • 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.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

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