Updated February 13, 2020
UPDATE: The World Health Organization has named the illness/syndrome caused by this novel coronavirus: COVID-19. The virus that causes the illness has been renamed SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The virus was previously known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
What is COVID-19 (aka 2019 Novel Coronavirus)?
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, particularly those in persons with underlying severe and chronic health issues, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies are involved in active investigations to learn more about how this virus is spread. Person-to-person spread has been reported in Asia, though it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.
What is the incubation period for this virus?
The incubation period is the time between exposure to a pathogen and the appearance of the first symptoms.
The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as many as 14 days after exposure. This is based on the incubation periods for similar viruses.
How concerned should I be about contracting COVID-19?
While the CDC considers this to be a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low.
How can I protect myself from respiratory infections?
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and disinfect your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you haven’t already been immunized against the flu, contact University Health Services to schedule your free flu shot.
Are there confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey?
No cases have been confirmed in New Jersey.
Is a surgical mask/facemask helpful in preventing transmission of coronavirus?
From the CDC: "CDC Does not currently recommend the use of facemasks among the general public. While limited person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States."
If you see someone wearing a mask, do not assume that they are at risk. There are cultural reasons for wearing a mask that have nothing to do with novel coronavirus.
Where can I get more information on coronavirus?
For up-to-date information, please check the following websites:
- US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization
- NJ Department of Health
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