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New Virus Prompts DOH to Issue Medical Advisory

January 21, 2020, 5:21 PM HST
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The first US case of a new coronavirus discovered in China has been confirmed in the state of Washington Tuesday.

In response, Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) said it is advising physicians statewide to be alert for patients who have traveled from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The department sent out a detailed medical advisory to healthcare providers Tuesday on reporting, testing, specimen collection and interim healthcare infection control recommendations for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Providers are advised to notify the DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division immediately if a patient meets the case criteria.

The DOH is also advising everyone over the age of six months, and especially those who travel, to receive a flu vaccination.

“With the current flu activity, there will likely be crossover in clinical presentation so the more people vaccinated against flu, the more helpful that will be,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist.

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The DOH is closely monitoring the outbreak of 2019-nCoV occurring in China and regularly coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a DOH press release. In addition to issuing a medical advisory Tuesday to ensure all clinical providers are informed, the DOH is coordinating with Emergency Medical Service personnel/first responders, the Department of Transportation and infection control partners in medical facilities throughout the state.

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DOH is also monitoring its respiratory surveillance network, which reviews flu activity in the state, the release continued. Resources for the 2019-nCoV are posted online.

An outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China has been developing since December 2019. This outbreak now includes more than 300 confirmed infections and several deaths in China with confirmed cases also in Thailand, Japan the Republic of Korea and the United States (one case in Washington State).

While human-to-human transmission appears limited, the situation continues to evolve. Nearly all travelers from China enter the state from other US or international ports of entry that are being monitored.

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If you have traveled to Wuhan and feel sick, you should do the following:

  • 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.
  • Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or 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.

For more information, including information for clinicians and public health professionals, go to the following CDC and WHO webpages:

wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/novel-coronavirus-china

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/novel-coronavirus-2019.html

www.who.int/csr/don/05-january-2020-pneumonia-of-unkown-cause-china/en/

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